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death penalty news----TEXAS
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Rick Halperin
2017-05-17 17:41:31 UTC
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May 17



TEXAS:

Lawyer says DNA, prints don’t prove Steven Thomas killed woman


The judges on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard arguments Wednesday
about the case of Steven Thomas who was given the death penalty in 2014 after
he was convicted of the capital murder of a Williamson County woman. It was
unclear when they might make a decision in the case.

Defense lawyer Ariel Payan argued Wednesday morning that the evidence used to
convict Thomas did not prove he was at the scene of the crime. A Williamson
County jury convicted Thomas in October 2014 and sentenced him to death for the
sexual assault and strangulation of Mildred McKinney in 1980.

Thomas’ fingerprint was found on the back of a clock in McKinney’s bedroom.
Payan said Wednesday at a hearing before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
that it could have been there because Thomas worked for a pesticide company
that had been to her house, Payan said.

He also said Thomas’ sperm was found on a piece of medical tape wrapped around
the thumb of the 73-year-old McKinney, but that didn’t prove he sexually
assaulted her. McKinney also had DNA inside of her from three other unknown
men, Payan said.

He said the testimony of a jailhouse snitch during Thomas’ trial also could not
prove that Thomas killed McKinney. The inmate, Steven Shockey, testified in
front of a jury that Thomas told him about being high on cocaine, breaking into
a house and having to restrain a woman before she got out of bed and that
Thomas took money and jewelry.

Williamson County Assistant District Attorney John Prezas, who was representing
the state on the appeal, said the physical evidence alone was enough to convict
Thomas without Shockey’s testimony. The clock that had Thomas’ fingerprint on
it was found in the middle of McKinney’s bed near some of the cord used to tie
her up at the crime scene, Prezas said.

He also said Thomas’ sperm was found not on medical tape but on a ribbon tied
around McKinney’s thumb that was used to restrain her hands. Prezas also
questioned whether Thomas had been to McKinney’s house when he worked for his
brother’s pesticide company. Thomas’ brother testified during the trial that
McKinney was one of their clients but he didn’t have records that showed Thomas
made a service call to her house, Prezas said.

One of Thomas’ lawyers, Ariel Payan, said in his appeal to the Court of
Criminal Appeals in August that the evidence presented at the trial showed
McKinney was killed by more than one person. No evidence at the trial showed
Thomas had killed McKinney or helped commit any other crime against her, Payan
said.

Evidence at the trial showed that a throat swab taken during McKinney’s autopsy
showed male DNA that didn’t belong to Thomas and also ruled out other suspects
in the case, including serial killer Henry Lee Lucas and his partner Ottis
Toole.

The ribbon wrapped around one of McKinney’s thumbs not only had DNA on it from
Thomas but also from an unknown man, according to a DNA analyst who testified
at the trial.

(source: Austin American-Statesman)
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