J4H | Justice 4 Hank Skinner

New Year’s Eve 1993

On New Year’s Eve, 1993, Hank and Twila were preparing for their New Year’s celebration at their home in Pampa, Texas. Hank had returned from working at his motor business at about 3:30pm and asked Ms. Busby’s twenty-two year old son, Elwin [Scooter] Caler to go and buy some vodka.

Hank and Twila began their celebration early that year. Hank consciously took a cocktail of Xanax pills and alcohol. Additionally, he was also subjected to a near lethal dose of codeine and passed out some time before 10:15pm, when Howard Mitchell, a close friend of both Hank and Twila, arrived to drive them both to attend his New Year’s Eve party. Howard attempted to rouse Hank from his stupor. From Mitchell’s affidavit of August 1994 –

“When I got there, Mr. Skinner was laying on the couch asleep, and there was a large bottle of vodka on the coffee table. I grabbed Mr. Skinner’s arm about five times. I got no reaction from Mr. Skinner – he was out cold.”

(Excerpt from DRS Season 3)

Mitchell and Twila then left to attend the party. Testimony was given at the original trial explaining why Twila left that party early. From the “Statement of Testimony At Trial” [filed as part of the Direct Appeal brief and listing the testimonial evidence originally presented at court]:

“[Testimony was given that] Mitchell and Twila left the appellant alone in the house and drove to Mitchell’s trailer where a party was in progress. Twila’s uncle, Robert Donnell, got very drunk at the party. Donnell was a big man with a hot temper who carried a knife in the trunk of his car. He had used force to collect a drug debt from a woman and sexually molested a young girl when she was asleep. Donnell followed Twila around at the party as if he was stalking her and made rude sexual advances. Twila became agitated and asked Mitchell to take her home.”

Twila arrived home between 11:00 and 11:15. Shortly afterwards she was bludgeoned to death. Her younger son was stabbed and murdered in his bed. The attacker also stabbed Scooter, but he was able to flee to a neighbor’s yard where he collapsed on the porch. Scooter never regained consciousness and died shortly afterwards. He was found by the neighbor who called the police at 11:59pm.

After having drunk all evening, poisoned by a near lethal dose of codeine, which Hank is severely allergic to, (it is believed that he was either accidentally poisoned by the addition of the pills to his drinks), Hank was comatose during the commission of the murders, as the testimony/evidence clearly shows. Sometime after the attacks, it is believed that Scooter revived Hank and led him out of the house in an effort to find help.

Apparently Scooter left Hank in the alley and continued to the neighbor’s porch, as stated above. Hank eventually stumbled down the alley, finding his way to another neighbor’s home, where he sought help and where he was arrested some three hours later. It is believed that Hank was not harmed during the attacks on Twila, Scooter and Randy simply because, in his comatose condition, he posed no threat to the killer(s). Or, that possibly Scooter eventually succeeded in forcing the attacker(s) to flee the home before Hank could be harmed.

In any event, it is apparent from the evidence that whoever committed the crime was primarily concerned with Twila, Scooter and Randy, possibly because of anger harbored against them which did not include Hank. Considering the above information and trial testimony concerning Twila’s uncle, Robert Donnell, one can easily see how this could happen.

Read more in The Crime Scene section

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