Southern Religion

Tuesday execution set for Larry Swearingen, whom four pathologists say is innocent


The execution of Larry Swearingen is scheduled for Tuesday in Texas.

Four forensic pathologists agree that he could not have committed the murder because Swearingen was in jail when Melissa Trotter was killed.

Chuck Lindell wrote for The Austin American-Statesman:

The four include the medical examiner whose testimony helped secure Swearingen’s guilty verdict. That medical examiner now says college student Melissa Trotter’s curiously preserved body could not have lain in the East Texas woods for more than 14 days — and probably was there for a much shorter time.

The results mean Swearingen was in jail when the 19-year-old’s body was left behind, the pathologists say.

“It’s just scientifically impossible for him to have killed the girl and thrown her into the woods,” said James Rytting, Swearingen’s appellate lawyer. “It’s guilt by imagination.”

The Houston Chronicle argues in a Jan. 23 editorial, Room for Doubt:

With the inmate facing an irreversible sentence — capital punishment — it is imperative that Texas Gov. Rick Perry stay the execution to prevent the death of a possibly innocent man.

Detailed, concise and readable analysis is provided by Jeralyn here.

Grits For Breakfast examines the issues in detail here.

The Texas Monthly examines the issues at great but well-written length here.

If you agree that a stay should be granted, your can use the Amnesty International USA form to send Governor Perry an email asking him to stay the execution.

Or stand aside while Swearingen becomes the fourth Texan executed this year.

Update: Reprieve granted

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans granted Larry Swearingen a reprieve Monday [01/26/2009], giving his lawyers time to present evidence that he did not commit the 1998 murder.


January 25, 2009 - Posted by | Crime | , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. […] faced lethal injection Tuesday in Texas for the death of Melissa Trotter. Yet four forensic pathologists agree that he could not have committed the murder, because he was in jail when it […]

    Pingback by Reprieve for Larry Swearingen, whom four pathologists say is innocent « BaptistPlanet | January 27, 2009

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