Add another name to the growing list of people already executed in Texas who may have been innocent. The list already includes Cameron Willingham, Carlos De Luna and Ruben Cantu. Now, here is another name: Claude Howard Jones, who was executed when George Bush was governor.

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Truth Hangs by a Hair

David Pasztor | September 10, 2007 |

One strand of hair, a piece of evidence crucial to determining whether Texas executed an innocent man almost seven years ago, is apparently at risk of being destroyed by San Jacinto County officials who are resisting a formal request by The Texas Observer, the Innocence Project, and other criminal justice organizations to make it available for independent scientific testing.

Observer lawyers are calling on San Jacinto County District Attorney Bill Burnett to preserve the hair until a lawsuit determines whether it must be released under state open-records laws. DNA testing might provide a strong indication as to whether Claude Howard Jones was, in fact, innocent of the murder for which he was executed.

“If the state of Texas did execute an innocent man, the people of Texas deserve to know what was done in their name,” said Observer Executive Editor Jake Bernstein. “This case begs for further examination. It’s not as if the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has an exemplary track record when it comes to scrutinizing death sentences.”

The 1-inch hair of ambiguous origin was the only piece of physical evidence that purportedly linked Jones to the November 14, 1989, murder of liquor store owner Allen Hilzendager in Point Blank, about 85 miles north of Houston. Jones was put to death by lethal injection on December 7, 2000, the last execution conducted under former Gov. George W. Bush.

Jones maintained his innocence until his death. No DNA testing was conducted on the hair, which has remained in the files of the San Jacinto district court clerk’s office. At Jones’ 1990 trial, a state expert who examined the hair by microscope testified that of all the people known to have been in the liquor store on the day of the murder, the stray hair most closely resembled Jones’.

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2 Responses to Claude Howard Jones: Another Innocent Man Executed in Texas?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Anyone that believes that this clown was innocent should educate themselves about the facts of this case and his remarkable record.

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