Texas's top appeals court denies DNA testing in death penalty case

Feb. 6, 2014 at 4:20 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Texas' top criminal appeals court has reversed a lower court ruling that an inmate facing execution is entitled to DNA testing.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled against Larry Swearingen, saying Wednesday his lawyers had not shown material was available for testing or that the results could lead to a reversal of his conviction. Swearingen was sentenced to death for kidnapping, raping and killing Melissa Trotter, 19.

"The Swearingen case has undergone exhaustive review by the courts and the public can rest assured that the evidence of his guilt remains irrefutable," Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon said in a statement after the decision.

James Rytting, a Houston lawyer representing Swearingen, said his client has evidence he did not commit the crime and should be given the opportunity to prove it.

Trotter's body was found in the Sam Houston National Forest in early 1999, about a month after she was last seen with Swearingen on the Montgomery College campus.

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