Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


On this day (December 31, 1993), Twila Busby and her two adult sons were murdered in Texas. Unit 1012 knows the grief of those who are the loved ones of Twila Busby and we support them. Please go to this blog post to learn more.

Please hear the latest news of Hank Skinner:

Panhandle judge rules that Hank Skinner should stay on Death Row

By Eli Okun - The Texas Tribune

A Gray County district judge ruled against Death Row inmate Hank Skinner this week, saying it was “reasonably probable” that Skinner would have been convicted of a triple murder even if DNA evidence, tested two years ago, had been available at his 1995 trial.

Skinner, now 52, was convicted of killing his girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons, Randy Busby and Elwin Caler, in 1993 at their Pampa home. His trial was moved to Tarrant County because of intense publicity in the Panhandle.

Attorneys for Skinner had argued for DNA testing in his case for years, and state prosecutors agreed to testing in 2012.

In February, state District Judge Steven Emmert held a two-day hearing in Gray County on the results of the DNA tests. In his decision, handed down Tuesday, he agreed with prosecutors that the evidence would not have changed the jury’s decision and that Skinner should stay on Death Row.

Skinner’s attorneys said they would appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Defense attorneys Douglas Robinson and Robert Owen have long maintained that the killer was Twila Busby’s maternal uncle, who is dead but had a history of violent behavior. Skinner has said he was far too intoxicated from vodka and codeine on the night of killings, New Year’s Eve 1993, to commit the crimes.

Tuesday’s brief ruling did not provide details of the judge’s rationale. But it validated prosecutors, who had emphasized that the testing identified Skinner’s DNA at 19 additional spots in the crime scene — among them a knife used in the murders — and did not provide new confirmation that Busby’s uncle had been there.

Skinner’s attorneys countered that the more than 180 new tests, which examined roughly 40 pieces of evidence, raised a variety of doubts about Skinner’s guilt and the state’s theory of the crimes.

Three hairs found in Busby’s hand were identified as dissimilar to those of people living in the house and matched the DNA of a maternal relative. Such evidence, they argued, would have convinced a jury that at least a reasonable doubt existed in the case.

Prosecutors said the matches to someone on Busby’s maternal side of the family came from degraded DNA and could have a number of explanations. Defense attorneys, meanwhile, argued that Skinner’s DNA would already have been on many household items, including the knife, because he lived in the house.

The defense also said the court should have taken a look at a bloody windbreaker that police collected as evidence but then lost. The testimony of a witness who could identify the jacket as belonging to the uncle was not admitted as evidence, the lawyers said in a statement, criticizing “the overall unfairness of this process” and “bungling by the State.”

“The judge confirmed once again what the State has said all along: It is clear from all the evidence that Hank Skinner is guilty of the murder of Twila Busby and her two sons,” Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for state Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office, said by email. “Skinner got the additional DNA testing he asked for and it further confirmed his guilt. It is time for Skinner to face his court-ordered punishment and quit delaying justice for his victims’ families.”

At the February hearing, much of the testimony centered on the difficulty of extracting results from DNA tests given the aging and degradation of the evidence, more than half of which produced no results or results that couldn’t be interpreted, the state’s expert said then.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Skinner a stay 20 minutes before he was scheduled to be executed.

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