The state of Mississippi is moving closer to carrying out the first execution of 2013.
The Mississippi State Supreme Court denied today Willie Jerome Manning's requests for a rehearing and a stay of execution. Manning wants DNA tests that were not available at the time of his conviction in the early 1990s. Manning received the death penalty for the December 1992 killings of two Mississippi State University students, Tiffany Miller and Jon Steckler.
Manning has maintained his innocence. This Mississippi Innocence Project filed a brief in support of Manning. Innocence Projects usually don't get involved with cases that lack compelling evidence of innocence. Of the seven people Innocence Project helped exonerate, six of them were freed because their DNA was absent from the scene of the crime, the brief states.
In addition to the DNA request, Manning's attorney said one of the prosecution's jury-selection tactics in Manning's trial was discriminatory. Voisin said some candidates listed publications such as Jet and Ebony magazines on a jury questionnaire. Prosecutors dismissed some of the potentials because they read liberal publications.
In 2012, Mississippi tied with Arizona and Oklahoma for second-most executions carried out in the United States, with six in each state. Texas led the nation with 15 executions in 2012. Manning is scheduled to be executed May 7 at Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman.