Hours before Willie Manning was set to be strapped to a table and injected with a lethal dose of liquids, the state Supreme Court stopped it. In the last few days, the case has taken a dramatic turn as the FBI admitted errors in agent testimony about ballistics and hair analysis.
It's the first case Mississippi College law professor Matt Steffey can remember, to be called into question after the FBI admitted to overstating conclusions, especially when it comes to the hair found at the crime scene.
"This played, I think, a rather important part in the trial because it was the only piece of physical evidence that linked Mr. Manning with the crime scene," said Steffey.
Manning's defense team asked for more time for DNA testing which they say will clear him of the 1992 murders of two Mississippi State University students. That request was first denied by the court, but it changed its stance Tuesday.
While Steffey says he agrees with prosecutors that DNA evidence won't completely exonerate Manning, the fact that doubt is now apparent, shouldn't be taken lightly.
"What matters is, is there any reasonable probability it could affect the sentence or the verdict and I think in the minds of most people who consider DNA evidence the gold standard, it would," said Steffey.
Attorney General Jim Hood says there's no reason for more testing and that the facts of the case point to Manning.
"Even assuming that they were someone else's, it would not negate the clear overwhelming evidence of Manning's guilt," said Hood.
Meanwhile Steffey says with DNA testing held to the standard it is, more time should be granted.
"I think a lot of people hold that view that before we put someone to death, that we ought to be sure as possible and that this could either make us more sure or at least let us know exactly where the evidence leads," Steffey.
At this point there's no word on exactly when the evidence will be re-examined. This isn't Manning's only death sentence. He's currently on death row for a completely separate case involving the robbery and murder of two elderly women.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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