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Mississippi Supreme Court stays Manning execution

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Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice says the FBI is willing to test Willie J. Manning's DNA and compare it to evidence, if prosecutors make a request. Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice says the FBI is willing to test Willie J. Manning's DNA and compare it to evidence, if prosecutors make a request.
Willie Jerome Manning   Source: MDOC Willie Jerome Manning Source: MDOC
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Mississippi Supreme Court has issued a stay in the execution of Willie Jerome Manning. The stay was issued a little more than four hours before his scheduled execution. The stay is in effect until the court issues a further order.

Presiding Justice Michael Randolph disagreed with the decision and cited several legal and factual reasons in a dissenting opinion.

Attorney General Jim Hood maintains that no testing will change the facts of the case.

According to Hood, testing was conducted in 1992, and the state supreme court has previously reviewed the evidence and denied the request.

Manning was convicted of killing two Mississippi State University students in 1992. The victims, Tiffany Miller of Madison County and Jon Steckler of Natchez, were shot in the head.

While the AG believes there is substantial evidence against Manning, State Sen. John Horhn is appealing to the governor to intervene.

"I want to emphasize whether he is guilty or not we need to travail all avenues to assess his guilt. I'm calling on the governor to issue a stay of execution and calling on attorney general to intervene in the name of justice," Horhn said.

Horhn and others are seeking the truth on Manning's guilt or innocence following the FBI's recent statement that there were flaws in the laboratory work and testimony related to microscopic hair comparison analysis in Manning's case.

Manning's lawyer says the FBI made a mistake and now hair collected as evidence could be tested.

"The FBI overstated some of the scientific principles behind that hair evidence but what's important to understand is that this evidence was never subject to DNA testing because the technology didn't exist," said Manning's attorney David Voisin.

Horhn said the FBI supports new testing, citing flaws in prior laboratory work.

"That kind of conclusiveness cannot be done without further testing. So again we're just calling on the governor to issue a stay of execution until this DNA testing can be done," Horhn said.

"They could have filed for that DNA testing in 2009 when that filing statute passed. They could have paid for this testing prior to that, but they didn't. They waited until March of this year so that they could do this at the last minute," Hood said.

One organization joins Senator Horhn's fight and is also trying to save the death row inmate through DNA testing.

Mississippians Educating for Smart Justice says the FBI is willing to test Willie J. Manning's DNA and compare it to evidence if prosecutors make a request. The group also says some African-Americans were unjustly left off the jury during Manning's trial.

Manning has maintained his innocence in the case. He was scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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