From the Texas Observer blog:

A San Jacinto County district judge has ruled that a crucial piece of evidence that might help determine whether Texas executed an innocent man almost seven years ago must be preserved while The Texas Observer, the Innocence Project, and other criminal justice groups pursue a lawsuit seeking to have it tested by an independent laboratory.

Judge Elizabeth Coker on Monday issued a temporary restraining order barring county officials from destroying evidence in the case of Claude Howard Jones, who was executed on December 7, 2000, for killing a liquor store owner. Coker scheduled a hearing for October 3 to consider allowing DNA testing of a hair found at the crime scene.

Jones’s conviction rested largely on a single, 1-inch strand of hair found on the liquor store counter. A state expert testified at trial that the hair closely resembled Jones’, but it was never subjected to DNA testing.

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