(Austin, TX – February 5, 2014) The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a decision today overturning a decision by a Montgomery Country District Court granting DNA testing to death row inmate Larry Swearingen. Although the Texas Legislature amended the state’s DNA statute in direct response to a ruling by the Court of Criminal Appeals denying Swearingen access to testing in 2010, the court found that Swearingen still doesn’t meet the requirements of the statue but remanded the case back to the district court for further consideration. The following can be attributed to Innocence Project staff attorney Bryce Benjet, who is representing Swearing along with Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck and Phil Hilder and James Rytting of Hilder and Associated.
“Given that the Texas Legislature specifically amended the state’s DNA statute so that Mr. Swearingen could conduct DNA testing that might prove his innocence, we are puzzled by the court’s decision. As we’ve seen time and again, DNA testing can not only prove innocence but also helps to identify the real perpetrators of crimes who may be at large committing other crimes. We remain convinced that Mr. Swearingen meets all the requirements required by the statue and look forward to making our case before the district court judge.”