Texas convict's wife hails 'partial victory'

25th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The wife of a Texas death row inmate claimed a "partial victory" on Tuesday after the US Supreme Court opened the way for possible DNA tests which the couple say would prove his innocence.

"It's a partial victory, a real break and potentially a victory to come," Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner, the French wife of condemned man Hank Skinner, said on radio station France Inter.

Skinner faces execution for the murder of his girlfriend and her two sons on New Year's Eve, 1993.

He won a last-minute reprieve in March when the Supreme Court stayed the execution less than an hour before it was due, after Skinner's lawyers and France's ambassador made a plea for further DNA tests.

The court on Monday agreed to review the case, which Skinner's lawyer Rob Owen said was "the necessary first step to our eventually obtaining the DNA testing".

Skinner, 47, met Sandrine Ageorges, a French anti-death penalty campaigner, after he was convicted in 1995. They married two years ago but have never touched since the convict is in total isolation on death row.

Ageorges-Skinner said she "burst into tears for the first time in all these years" when she heard the court's announcement on Monday. "I couldn't believe it," she told France Inter.

The court is now due to take up the case in its new session which will open later this year. Ageorges-Skinner said she hoped for a decision in the first half of 2011.

In recent years, 17 US death row prisoners have been released after DNA tests proved their innocence but the state of Texas -- which executes more people than any other US state -- has refused to allow such tests on Skinner.

© 2010 AFP

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