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U.S. officials claim errors in case of death row prisoner Willie Manning

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Justice Department suggests evidence used to help convict Manning was flawed as officials reportedly agree to further tests

The fate of a death row prisoner in Mississippi remains in the balance just days ahead of Tuesday’s planned execution, following the intervention of federal officials who claim that forensic evidence used to help convict him was flawed.

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Willie Manning is set to be put to death next week for the murders of two students, Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, whose bodies were discovered in rural Mississippi in 1992. They had both been shot dead.

But the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi has reported that a lawyer for the Justice Department has now written to a local district attorney, Manning’s lawyer and the Innocence Project advocacy group raising its concerns about the evidence.

The letter reportedly states that a review of the original tests had been carried out. “Through this review, we have determined that testimony containing erroneous statements regarding microscopic hair comparison analysis was used in this case,” the letter said.

It added that those statements “exceeded the limits of science” at that time and therefore were invalid.

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The paper also reported that the FBI had now agreed to further testing of evidence in the case. An article in Saturday’s edition of the Washington Post, which has devoted a series of articles to questioning the conviction of Manning, stated that a spokesman for Mississippi governor Phil Bryant confirmed that the facts of the case were now being reviewed.

Reportedly, federal officials uncovered the problems with Manning’s conviction as part of a broad review, which began last summer, to recheck evidence from 21,000 cases involving forensic hair examinations.

Manning’s defenders and anti-death penalty advocates say his case is yet another example of a man facing the ultimate punishment for a crime he did not commit. Yet last week the Mississippi supreme court denied a request by Manning’s lawyers to re-examine a rape kit, fingernail scrapings, hairs and fingerprint evidence in the case.

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The court ruled narrowly that even if Manning’s DNA was absent, that would not be enough to overturn his 1994 conviction.

“Our examination anew of the record reveals that conclusive, overwhelming evidence of guilt was presented to the jury,” presiding justice Michael Randolph wrote in the decision.

Manning was also separately convicted and sentenced to death for killing two elderly women in their apartment in 1993 elsewhere in the state. He has appealed against that conviction.

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guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013

[image via Mississippi Dept. of Corrections]

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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White House spokesperson ridiculed for ‘pathetic’ spin on Trump’s trade war admission: ‘Does she think we believe that?’

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Hours after Donald Trump blithely admitted that he had "second thoughts" about his trade war with China that has damaged the U.S. economy and helped set the stage for a possible recession, White House spokesperson Stephanie Grisham was forced to issue a clarification about the president's comments.

Addressing Trump's G7 response about his tariffs, widely interpreted by the press as expressing some regret, Grisham issued a statement saying the president meant that he wished he had increased his market-destroying tariffs even more.

"The President was asked if he had ‘any second thought on escalating the trade war with China,'" White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham relayed. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted. President Trump responded in the affirmative - because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

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Here is why Trump is obsessed with Greenland

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They say that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. Remember that President Harry Truman tried to purchase Greenland in 1946; now, in 2019, President Donald Trump is trying to do the same thing.

This article first appeared in Salon.

To be clear, Trump’s farcical, “absurd” idea — to borrow the adjective used by Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen — is not happening, and was never going to happen. As Frederiksen pointed out, Greenland is “not for sale." Trump, for his part, has not backed down from the idea.

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2020 Election

Iowa’s Steve King facing ouster because his campaign is broke and his allies have fled: report

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Iowa Republican Steve King is facing losing his seat representing his district in the U.S. House of Representatives as his campaign finds itself broke and the Republican Party has turned its back on him after his latest round of controversial comments.

According to a report from the Daily Beast, his campaign is struggling to bring donors -- who once wholeheartedly supported him --back into the fold.

Even worse, his colleagues in Congress have also abandoned him.

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