Last Minute: Mississippi Man’s Execution Postponed

Justice Department offers to help state officials test for additional DNA evidence

be newsWith just hours to go before his scheduled execution in Mississippi on Tuesday, William Jerome Manning was granted a stay of execution by the state’s Supreme Court.

What saved Manning’s life?

According to a New York Times report, the United States Department of Justice, under the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder, sent lawyers and officials involved in the death penalty case several letters disputing forensics used to convict the 44-year-old African-American man.

Manning was found guilty of murdering two college students in 1994, but his repeated requests for a reexamination of DNA evidence in the case were denied by state officials, who said there was no DNA available for testing.

Lawyers for the Innocence Project, who are helping with Manning’s case, said DNA evidence used to exonerate death row inmates can be found years or even decades after samples have initially tested negative for biological evidence.

Mississippi state Supreme Court justices, ruling in favor of Manning’s reprieve, did not put a time limit on the postponement. The Justice Department has offered to help state law enforcement officials test hair fragments collected during the investigation.

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