Bill Would Require DNA Testing In Texas Death Penalty Cases

AUSTIN (March 19, 2013)--Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Rodney Ellis want to require DNA testing of all biological evidence in a capital murder trial before prosecutors can seek the death penalty.

Abbott and Ellis said Tuesday the proposed legislation would reduce the number of false convictions and speed up the appeals process for the guilty.

Ellis said that after-trial DNA testing has reversed 17 death penalty cases in the United States.

Abbott pointed out that some death row prisoners have used DNA testing to prolong their appeals, even though the evidence only reaffirms their guilt.

“The death penalty is right for Texas. It works when it punishes murderers, but it doesn't work if it executes innocent people,” he said

“To be certain that only guilty murderers are executed, all evidence that can be tested for DNA should be tested for DNA -- before the case goes to trial. This will prevent endless appeals that game the system and delay justice for the families of victims,” he said.

Ellis' Senate Bill 1292 would also set out what evidence must be collected and who would test it.

There have been fewer than 10 death penalty cases over the last two years.

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