EDITORIAL/Get It Right: Texas should have granted DNA tests for condemend inmate

Tuesday was World Day Against the Death Penalty, which, as it sounds, is a day when opponents of capital punishment advocate for its abolition.

The State of Texas marked the day by putting to death one Jedidiah Murphy, a man who had been sitting on death row for more than 20 years.

Murphy admitted killing an 80-year-old woman during a carjacking in 2000. It was a heinous crime that earned him a trip to the gurney.

But to secure a death sentence, prosecutors also had to show jurors that Murphy presented a future danger to society.

They used evidence of two robberies and a kidnapping to show that Murphy would likely be a danger if ever released.

But Murphy always denied being involved in those crimes. And his attorneys requested DNA tests to help settle the question.

But prosecutors said state law doesn't allow for post-conviction DNA testing on evidence used to determine sentencing.

Last week, a federal judge issued a stay of execution.

"It is difficult for the Court to conclude that the negation of this evidence would not have affected the jury's decision in the punishment phase," U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman wrote.

On Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and also delayed the execution.

But the attorney general's office appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which allowed the execution to proceed.

We shed no tears for Jedidiah Murphy. But if Texas is going to put condemned inmates to death, it has an obligation to get it right. There are no second chances once the lethal drug starts flowing.

The DNA tests should have been carried out. And if state law doesn't allow for it, then the law should be changed.

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