A couple of weeks ago I blogged here on the issue of an innocent man being executed despite that innocence. This reflects a case currently going before the Supreme Court where Tennessee seeks to execute a man named Paul House for a murder many now doubt he committed, all in the name of finality - he was convicted, and we can't keep re-opening cases in the name of "new evidence" if we ever want to get these pesky executions behind us.
Well, one of the cases that I referenced where an innocent person may have been executed was that of Roger Keith Coleman, executed in 1992 despite a general dearth of evidence against him, and scientific evidence that could prove his innocence.
DNA tests just conducted show that he was, indeed, the man who, at the very least, raped his sister in law, and in every likelihood, killed her as well (to the extent that his supporters contended that a lack of a DNA match would exonerate him here, it convicts him here as well - what's good for the goose is good for the gandor).
I hope I haven't suggested in my posts that cases in which there is no physical evidence cannot be sufficient in getting the right person, because that is certainly not my belief. My position is simply consistent with the evidence we have seen over the last decade of increased reliance on DNA tests - newly discovered DNA evidence has cast doubt on many of these convictions that were based on things like eyewitness identifications or false confessions, or jailhouse snitches. This does not bring every conviction into doubt.
Of course, we still have the Cantu case out of Texas, which seems utterly suspicious, but will never be cleared up by physical evidence because none exists, and so he'll be just as unable to prove himself innocent of that murder as I am of proving myself innocent of killing Nicole Simpson (hey, I lived in LA at the time, my wife was out of town when it happened, so I was home alone with no alibi, and I can't PROVE I didn't do it, so I guess I'm not actually innocent of it, just not guilty - yet????).
They call this a setback for the death penalty opposition. I disagree. This is a victory for those who wanted some degree of justice (I'm not suggesting that execution is better justice than LWOP). Now we know for certain that, regardless of what you think of the Death Penalty, at least the right person was executed, and a killer doesn't walk free while an innocent man was murdered in the name of "justice."
That would be truly disturbing, and I don't relish it happening, no matter how much "good" it does the movement.