Capital Punishment

Did TX Execute Another Innocent Man?

David Grann’s New Yorker story about Cameron Todd Willmingham asked whether Texas executed an innocent man in 2004. Willmingham may not have been the first: Claude Jones was executed in Texas 10 years ago for a liquor-store murder, based on a single hair that was found at the scene of the crime. But a recent DNA analysis has shown that the hair did not belong to Jones and it may have belonged, in fact, to the murder victim. Jones was a career criminal who never admitted to the crime. As his execution neared, he pushed then Governor George W. Bush for a DNA test on the hair, but Bush’s office never brought Jones’ request to the governor’s attention. During Jones’ trial, a forensic expert looked at the hair under a microscope and said it could have been Jones’, but not the victim’s; a DNA test was never performed before Jones’ execution.