Hank Skinner writes to us on the occasion of his 20 years of solitary confinement
27 June 2019
Already 20 years... 20 years Hank Skinner's been in total isolation in a Texas prison. Accused of the murder of 3 people and sentenced to death for it, Hank has always claimed his innocence and fought to prove it. Today, he is sending us this letter to share some of his daily life between procedures to prove his innocence and dreams of freedom.
To ECPM, to all my friends and supporters,
Hey y’all! Sorry it’s been a while since you heard from me but I’ve been sort of incommunicado part of the time and busy with my case, attorneys and other legal work I do for other here, etc. and putting together my actual innocence claim. My case was submitted to the Court of Criminal Appeals on March 27, 2019 but this post-conviction DNA law is not in and of itself a method of relief. There, if they rule in my favor, it’ll be a finding that, if I’d had this evidence at trial, it’s more than likely – reasonably probable – that I’d not be prosecuted or convicted. Then, with that, we file a claim of actual innocence habeas writ with the Court of Criminal Appeals. That will happen soon.
Now, we’ve got the DNA, trace and fingerprint evidence to prove my innocence. Part of that proof is the total absence of my blood, DNA, prints or any trace evidence attributable to me. In my case, the absence of certain evidence on some specific items absolutely is proof of my innocence because all 3 of the victims in my case were killed hands on with hand-held implements.
I cannot get too deep into the specifics of what we intend to do because it’s confidential privileged work product. But I can tell you this much: one way or the other the end of this case is near. I intend for it to be my release and exoneration. We must hire several experts to help make it happen:
1/ Biometrics-biomechanics expert. This is a person who can explain how the human body operates physically and in relation to the use of implements, the mechanics of how something happens and why it is, or is not, physically possible under the scenario shown by the evidence.
2/ A toxico-kinesiologist. This is a person who can examine the physical actions required to commit the murders and the effects of intoxicants, alcohol and/or drugs on a person’s ability to perform those actions. He/she works together with the biometrics-biomechanics expert although they are two totally separate disciplines within similar fields of science.
3/ A fingerprint expert. This is someone to examine certain latent prints recovered from the scene and who can attest with scientific certainty that the prints are not mine.
All three of these will be testifying experts, as opposed to consulting experts. So they will cost more. The basic retainer for each one of them is between $3500 - $5000. If they have to appear in court say, at an evidentiary hearing, their fees are $500 to $1500 per day plus airfare, rental car, fuel, meals, lodging and out-of pocket expenses. We may or may not have to move for a hearing. It just depends on how the litigation proceeds and what the state says, whether they oppose it or not. They, as a general matter, agree to very little. In this case, so far, they have opposed everything until there was just no other choice. However, what we have in terms of evidence is as solid as it gets, and with these experts and what I’m planning to do, it will not only be “clear and convincing”, the legal standard required of “actual innocence” proof, it’ll be unassailable. So, we have to raise $25,000 - $35,000 to cover the most basic retainers and costs. If the Court of Criminal Appeals does not rule in my favor, the trial judge in Pampa will, once again, sign a death warrant setting a new execution date for 90 days later, so time is of the essence and your help is critical to save my life and prove my innocence once and for all. With any luck this will be the last time we have to call on your generosity and support.
Other than that, I dream of freedom!! I hope you’ll help me make that dream a reality. I truly do dream of this, of lining you all up and giving each and everyone of you the best hug you’ve ever gotten in your whole life!! Most of that is gratitude, but part of is just how hard I thirst for affectionate human touch. 25 years! A quarter of a century!! One hug, at my 2005 federal evidentiary hearing, from my attorneys, Rob Owen and Doug Robinson, since I love them like my own family and the judge would not allow my pastor or even my wife to touch me, it was one hell of an attorney’s hug, for sure. But as a 14-year old moment, that great memory is fading.
This has been a long, hard fought battle. I’m dearly grateful to them and to all of you, for all the help you have so generously and selflessly given me!! To the future!! Freedom! Endless hugs!!