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Bill Would Require DNA Testing For Texas Death Penalty Cases
Attorney General Greg Abbot and Senator Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, are both pushing for a change in capital murder cases.
A bill authored by Ellis would require testing all biological evidence for DNA before seeking the death penalty.
Ellis said the bill would ensure that only the guilty face execution.
"When we get it wrong, not only is an innocent person’s freedom taken away, the truly guilty person is free," Ellis said. "It will make a significant step toward a more fair, reliable and just criminal justice system in Texas."
Ellis and Abbot said they are not against the death penalty. Abbot said it is part of the policy for the state of Texas that when the ultimate penalty is applied no one will be convicted who is innocent.
"We can make sure we get the right result and we never have to execute someone wrongfully," Abbot said. "If you are innocent you'll be exonerated more quickly, if you are guilty justice will be more swift and more certain."
Abbot said adding DNA testing before a trail could shorten the appeals process for those who are guilty. He said the state of Texas would pick up the cost for the pre-trail testing.
"Those appeals go on for years now, sometimes even decades, they cost a lot of time and a lot of money on the part of everyone," Abbot said. "One part of these one or two decade long appeals is wrenching for the families of the victims. They need closure; they need certainty."
By Cassie Gallo