Man Facing Execution Tonight Denied DNA Test

Apparently, this is a first. Eddie Crawford is on Georgia's death row and scheduled for execution tonight. Last week, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles refused the Innocence Project's request for a DNA test--even though the IP offered to pay it.

Barry Scheck, a lawyer who presented the case to the Board of Pardons and Paroles last week, said that to his knowledge it was the first time a death row inmate had been denied DNA testing after making every possible appeal at the state level. "It's just never happened before," Mr. Scheck said. "Usually some clemency board, or the governor or someone, will step in." In Georgia, the Board of Pardons is the final authority on clemency matters.

Heather Hedrick, a spokeswoman for the board, said it reached its decision because DNA testing had already proven guilt, there had been overwhelming circumstantial evidence and Mr. Crawford had confessed shortly after the crime.
Mr. Scheck said there was a great deal of evidence that had never been tested. "They have nothing to lose," he said. "And I'm mystified and extremely disappointed."

Given the abundance of cases showing DNA lab fraud or mistaken test results, as well as false confessions, Mr. Crawford should get a retest. It is very hard to get the Innocence Project to take up a case. The review process is very stringent. If Mr. Crawford didn't have a good claim of innocence, the IP would have passed on it.

The Supreme Court will get a chance to stay Mr. Crawford's execution. Let's hope the Court establishes once and for all that "defendants have a constitutional right to DNA testing of existing evidence."

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