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Ruin Hain International Headquarters Come Visit us for LUNCH! In addition to our organic coffee, pizzas, empanadas, pastries and pies, we now prepare made to order sandwiches, salads, and even black bean gazpacho. 3601 S. Congress off E. Alpine Penn Field under the water tower check our site for monthly calendar it Supporting The Texas Observer with every referral and transaction. You Know Me Get real estate help from someone you know. Call me today! Larry Hurlbert, Realtor 512.431.5370 [email protected] The Kinney Company, Real Estate Services, Austin, TX Stephen Robertson, a forensic expert hired by the Department of Public Safety, examined the hair under a microscopean inaccurate visual analysis common at the time. Robertson compared the hair with samples taken from 15 people who entered the store the day of the murder. He testified at trial that he believed the hair matched Jones. But he also told the jury that “technology has not advanced where we can tell you that this hair came from that person,” according to court records. “Can’t be done.” In 2000, when Jones was fighting for his life, it could be done. On Dec. 6, 2000, the day before the execution, Jones’ attorneys filed a last-ditch motion for a stay in district court and with the Texas Court of Criminal Appealsso they could submit the hair for mitochonJones’ last hope was Bush, who in December 2000 was embroiled in the Florida recount controversy that followed the presidential election. Bush had already overseen the execution of 151 people during his governorship. Earlier that year, Bush had granted a 30-day stay to Ricky McGinn so that DNA testing could be conducted on key evidence in his case. \(The tests would explaining his decision in the McGinn case to CNN in June 2000, said, “To the extent that DNA can prove for certain innocence or guilt, I think we need to use DNA.” Bush was never told about Jones’ request. Through a public-information request, the Innocence Project obtained the Dec. 7, 2000, memo that lawyers in the governor’s office sent to Bush, briefing him on the circumstances of Jones’ pending execution. The four-page memo doesn’t mention that Jones asked for DNA testing. Rather, it describes the disputed hair evidence as “testimony from a chemist employed by DPS that the hair samples taken from the crime scene matched those taken from Jones.” The memo from the general counsel’s office concludes, “At this time, I do not recommend that a reprieve be granted.” Jones was executed a few hours later. Why did lawyers in the governor’s office not inform Bush about the request for DNA testing? That question remained unanswered as the Observer went to press. Three attorneys in the governor’s office at the time worked on the memo to Bush: then-assistant general counsels Claudia Nadig and Shannon Edmonds, and then-General Counsel Margaret Wilson. Nadig, now an attorney with the federal Office of the Director of National Intelligence in Washington, D.C., didn’t respond to calls for comment. Edmonds, who works with the Texas District and County Attorneys Association in Austin, said he doesn’t recall the details of the case. Wilson, who’s practicing law in Austin, told the Observer, “Suffice it to say, I think [media reports on the case] are biased and unfair and reach a conclusion that the documents don’t support.” She refused to elaborate until she had studied the legal filings in the case. Meanwhile, the strand of hair survived, tucked away in a box in the San Jacinto County Courthouse. When the Observer and Innocence Project asked to test the hair, the county district attorney’s office fought its release and announced its intention to destroy the hair. In June, state District Judge Paul Murphy ordered prosecutors to turn over the remaining hair evidence for DNA testing. Anti-death penalty advocates had hoped the Jones case would provide the first-ever DNA exoneration NOVEMBER 26, 2010 of an executed person. While quite a few death penalty cases have been called into question, including several in Texas, no executed prisoners have been proven innocent by DNA testing. Instead, Jones’ case now falls into the category of a questionable executiona case that might not “A serious breakdown in the criminal justice system.” have resulted in a conviction were it tried with modern forensic science. Still, the revelations in the Jones case raise more questions about how Texas administers the ultimate form of punishment. “My father never claimed to be a saint, but he always maintained that he didn’t commit this murder,” says Claude Jones’ son Duane, who didn’t know his father growing up and met him when he was on death row. “I hope these results will serve as a wakeup call to everyone that serious problems exist in the criminal-justice system that must be fixed if our society is to continue using the death penalty.” ICI