The US Supreme Court has suspended the execution of a Texas prisoner just an hour before he was due to face death by lethal injection.
Hank Skinner has spent fifteen years on death row after being convicted of murdering his girlfriend and her two sons.
Now married to a French campaigner against the death penalty, he’s appealed for new DNA tests to prove his innocence. The state of Texas has refused to allow Skinner to take the tests even at his own expense.
Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner was allowed to visit her husband for a few hours on Tuesday, before he was due to die. She was asked how she felt when news of the reprieve came through.
“Drained, drained. I’m delighted, but drained,” she said. “I don’t know, with all the pressure on you, you have to take a breath of air, but we’ll get there.”`
Hank Skinner has always admitted he was present at the scene when Twila Busby and her two mentally impaired sons were killed in 1993. But he claims he had fainted after taking a large amount of alcohol, tranquillisers and anti-depressants and could not have done it.
In Paris dozens of Skinner’s supporters demonstrated outside the American embassy before the scheduled execution. President Sarkozy and the French government have backed his case. But Skinner remains sentenced to death; the suspension of his execution only buys him time.