Bill would require DNA testing for death penalty

Goal: Reducing number of false convictions

Published On: Mar 19 2013 04:49:44 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 19 2013 06:00:00 PM CDT
AUSTIN, Texas -

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic Sen. Rodney Ellis want to require that all biological evidence in a murder trial be tested for DNA before a prosecutor can seek the death penalty.

Both men on Tuesday said that the proposed legislation would reduce the number of false convictions and speed up the appeals process for the guilty.

Ellis said that after-trial DNA testing has reversed 18 death penalty cases in the United States. Abbott pointed out that some death row prisoners have used DNA testing to prolong their appeals, even though the evidence only reaffirms their guilt.

Ellis' Senate Bill 1292 would also set out what evidence must be collected and who would test it. There have been fewer than 10 death penalty cases over the last two years.