There was a massive amount of evidence available in the form of potential murder weapons, blood spatter evidence and hand and fingerprints. Careful testing of this evidence could have eliminated Hank Skinner from the murder enquiries and perhaps even provided an indication as to who the attacker actually was. Yet the state experts were extraordinarily reluctant to carry out such tests, particularly Gary Stallings (state’s criminalist) who consistently declined to perform important basic tests simply because he didn’t believe they would provide any evidence. This blatant omission was damaging and prejudicial on two counts – firstly, had these tests been performed, they could have potentially pointed to an alternative suspect (Donnell, perhaps). Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, they could have established once and for all that Hank was not the attacker.
The Statement of Testimony at Trial summarizes the views of Dr. Elizabeth Peacock (state’s pathologist) and Detective Terry Young (investigating officer) who “…agreed that Caler and Randy Busby could have been stabbed with the knife that was found on the front porch of the house, the knife that was found in the black plastic trash bag with a towel that had a wet brown stain on it or both knives” …
Additionally, the Statement of testimony observes that “There were no fingerprints on the knives, but Unnasch [Glenn Unnasch, Dept Public Safety latent fingerprint examiner] found a handprint on the black bag that was not made by the appellant [Hank Skinner]. The Pampa Police asked Department of Public Safety criminalist Gary Stallings to determine whether the brown stain on the towel ….was human blood. Stallings did not perform that test or test the knife in the bag for blood.” . Of this matter,
Of this matter, Dr. Glenn Larkin MD comments: “This is incredulous. Two knives were found, one loose and the other in a bag,. While no fingerprints were found on the knife handles, untested fingerprints were found on a bag containing one of the knives. These fingerprints were not tested!……A substance was found on both the knives and the bag containing one of them, believed to be blood. They were not tested for blood groups therefore not compared to known blood samples of people involved in this case. This is inexplicable from all sides, except for one interpretation, which if valid, is ominous for the prosecution, and the defense counsel who did not pick this up…..The only reason for not testing the blood and comparing the samples with the known is the fear that it would indicate a person other than Skinner was the perpetrator.” “Glenn Unnasch, [Dept Public Safety latent fingerprint examiner] believed that a search of the crime scene for latent prints that were not made in blood could have produced important evidence, but he did not collect it because the Pampa police did not ask him to do so” [from the Statement of Testimony at Trial – actual testimony transcript contains some very interesting admissions, and so follows:] Defense: Were you asked to process the scene…for fingerprints of persons who were not members of the household?…. Unnasch: No, I was not asked.
“Glenn Unnasch, [Dept Public Safety latent fingerprint examiner] believed that a search of the crime scene for latent prints that were not made in blood could have produced important evidence, but he did not collect it because the Pampa police did not ask him to do so” [from the Statement of Testimony at Trial – actual testimony transcript contains some very interesting admissions, and so follows:] Defense: Were you asked to process the scene…for fingerprints of persons who were not members of the household?…. Unnasch: No, I was not asked.
Defense: Were you asked to process the scene…for fingerprints of persons who were not members of the household?…. Unnasch: No, I was not asked. Defense: Do you think that would have been important if there was a possibility that someone other than the Defendant or members of the household had been the assailant or assailants in this case? Unnasch: If they would have left prints, I guess it could be important, yes…….. Defense: ……Were the defendants … fingerprints … identified on anything that is considered a potential weapon in this case? For example, the axe handle? Unnasch: No. Defense: The bloody knife that was found on the front porch? Unnasch: No. Defense: The knife that was found in the black plastic bag? Unnasch: No. The handprint evidence was actively ignored by Gary Stallings (states’ criminalist). This was of concern to Detective Terry Young who, as indicated in the Statement of Testimony “…asked Stallings to determine whether the bloody handprint on the front storm door of the house was made by the appellant [Hank Skinner] or one of the victims. Young believed that the answer to that question was important, but Stallings did not request a DNA test to determine the source of the blood” Dr. Glenn Larkin, MD has some damning remarks to make of this whole state of affairs: “The laziness of the crime laboratory is disturbing to me. Are you dealing with the Fred Zain Syndrome?
This man’s [Stallings’] ignorance of the basic tenets of forensic science is just too great to be coincidence. If the mission of the crime laboratory is to help separate the guilty from the innocent, and if he received requests from Detective Young and Dr Peacock to perform certain tests, it is not his function to summarily veto their requests….. A non test can not ever be inculpatory. I would suggest that they look into Stalling’s infection with the Fred Zain Syndrome…..” In fact, Dr. Larkin summarises the states’ forensic investigation thus:
* “Potentially exculpatative fingerprints were not lifted or examined.” * “Blood Spatter evidence is vague, and conclusions questionable.” * “Putatative knives were not tested for human blood, which would have helped resolve questions of how and where attacks took place.” * “Requests by Dr. Peacock for analysis of trace evidence found on body were blithely ignored by Stallings.” * “If she obtained vaginal swabs and smears, they can arguably still be processed. With a dispute connected with the question of sexual assault, the identification of the seminal fluid and it’s owner is material to Skinner’s defense.” * “The [identification of a] “defense wound” [on Hank Skinner] in the palm is questionable.” [the prosecution argued that a fresh wound on Hanks palm could have been accidentally attained whilst attacking the victims – see below ]
Under defense cross-examination, Department of Public Safety criminalist, Gary Stallings was unable to come up with a single piece of forensic evidence positively identifying Hank Skinner as the murderer. Thereby, he conceded that all the state’s evidence proved was that Hank was at the crime scene during or after the time the victims became bloody [not in itself startling since he lived there and, as other trial testimony established, he was unconscious on the couch at the time]. In other words, all the forensic proves is that Hank was there. Mere presence does not prove guilt under existing case law precedence in Texas or any other State. The evidence which convicted Hank was this proof of presence in conjunction with the false testimony of Andrea Reed.