By PATSY R. BRUMFIELD/Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal
JACKSON – Mississippi and New Orleans Innocence Project directors today asked the state Supreme Court to grant an execution-bound inmate DNA testing they say could resolve key questions about who murdered two Mississippi State University students in 1992.
The friend of the court brief insists that Willie Jerome Manning’s case “is exactly the kind” where DNA testing could prove innocence or confirm guilt.
Manning, now in his 40s, is scheduled to die May 7 for the murders of John Steckler and Tiffany Miller in Oktibbeha County.
The 23-page brief reminds the state’s highest court that the Innocence Project in Mississippi pressed for DNA testing in seven cases, and the convicted persons were found not to be guilty.
In addition, they say, in six of the cases the “true perpetrator” was identified.
Manning’s attorneys also asked the court to hold up on his execution because he’s asked Gov. Phil Bryant for a pardon or clemency, and that a new motion for rehearing is pending before the court.
Last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court split 5-4 to deny Manning the DNA and fingerprint testing.
On March 25, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition to review his case, and then the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office asked the state court to set his execution date.