COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)- It’s been 20 years since two Mississippi State students were brutally murdered in the early morning hours of December 11th. Tuesday night, Willie Jerome Manning is scheduled to die by lethal injection for those crimes. As the hour draws closer to Manning’s execution, the debate continues as to whether or not the State should reconsider DNA testing.
Forrest Allgood was the prosecutor during Manning’s trial and says even if additional DNA testing is performed, that doesn’t mean Manning did not commit the crime.
“Let’s say they find some DNA from a hair in Jon Steckler’s car and that hair doesn’t match. What does that mean? Well, could it be someone else was involved in the crime? Yeah, could be. Could it also be the guy that detailed the car the week before the killing took place and was cleaning it up himself? Could be that too. It depends on where it comes from and even then, unless you’ve got a time frame on when that sample was deposited there, there’s always going to be questions,” said District Attorney Allgood.
The Department of Justice and the FBI admitted that an FBI expert testified falsely at Manning’s trial. Defense attorney’s argue since the hair analysis wasn’t done properly, testing should be completed before the execution.
” I mean DNA’s not a mystery. DNA was on the radar then because the FBI lab did DNA testing on some of the articles. I know that if that’s in the crime lab reports, the defense has got everything we’ve got. They have to know what articles were out there. They have to know what could have been tested or not tested. You just wonder how it gets to the point where you’re literally hours away from a huge act and nobody’s brought this up before!? I don’t understand why that hasn’t been addressed sometime in the previous 16, 18 almost 20 years since we tried this thing,” said District Attorney Allgood.
Despite that knowledge, Allgood admits, a last-minute decision to stay Manning’s execution wouldn’t be surprising.
“I’ve read in the paper, I’ve seen in the news lots of instances where things were stayed in the 11th hour. And could that happen here? Yeah, it could,” said District Attorney Allgood.
Willie Manning’s attorney says that under these unprecedented circumstances, Mississippi officials cannot stand by and let this execution proceed.