Texas inmate's wife relieved, wary after stay of execution
The French wife of US death row inmate Hank Skinner said Tuesday she was relieved that a Texas court granted him a last-minute stay of execution, but warned "we're not there yet."
"We're obviously more than relieved," Sandrine Ageorges, a death penalty activist who met and married Skinner in the 1990s while he was on death row, told France Inter radio in a telephone interview.
"It's an umpteenth respite, but it's better than going to the morgue on Wednesday."
Skinner, who has been on death row for 16 years and has long maintained his innocence, was scheduled to be executed Wednesday for murdering his girlfriend and two of her sons.
A Texas appeals court on Monday issued a last-minute stay of execution in order to determine if further DNA testing should be conducted on evidence from the crime scene.
Skinner's lawyers "are expecting a decision around the end of July at the earliest," Ageorges said.
"We're not there yet, we still don't know if we will have these DNA tests or not," she said, slamming the "extremely political angle" of her husband's case.
Had Skinner's appeal been denied, he would have had few options save a rare intervention by the state's Republican Governor Rick Perry, who is running for president while boasting of his support for capital punishment.
"I'd like for France and the European Union to get much more involved," Ageorges said, noting the significant amount of business done between the EU and Texas.
"You can't have a go by criticising the death penalty and at the same time feed the beast."
He insists he was comatose on the couch due to an accidental and "near-fatal" mix of alcohol and codeine when his girlfriend was bludgeoned to death and her sons were fatally stabbed after a New Year's party.
He has argued that DNA testing of a bloody jacket found next to his girlfriend's body and other evidence found at the site could clear him of the 1993 crimes.
Several human rights groups are organising a Skinner support rally on Paris' Place de la Concorde on Wednesday evening.
France last week urged authorities in Texas to put off Skinner's execution, voicing concern over a court's earlier refusal to allow the DNA testing.
© 2011 AFP