Texas court halts Skinner execution

AUSTIN, Texas Mon Nov 7, 2011 4:55pm EST

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AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday halted the execution of Henry Skinner, which had been scheduled for Wednesday, saying it wanted to take time to fully review changes in state law on DNA testing.

Skinner, who was convicted of the 1993 New Year's Eve killings of his girlfriend and her two adult sons in Pampa, Texas, has maintained his innocence and sought DNA testing of crime scene evidence.

The court order cited changes in state law on DNA testing as a factor in its decision.

"Because the DNA statute has changed, and because some of those changes were because of this case, we find that it would be prudent for this court to take time to fully review the changes in statute as they pertain to this case," the court order said.

Skinner's lawyer said the decision "has ensured that Mr. Skinner's request for DNA testing will receive the thorough and serious consideration it deserves."

"We are grateful for the court's action and look forward to the opportunity to make Mr. Skinner's case for DNA testing in that forum," the lawyer, Rob Owen, said in a statement.

On March 24, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Skinner a stay about an hour before he was scheduled to be executed.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston

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