U.K. Lawmaker Says Texas Inmate Innocent

Fresh Evidence Proves British Man Due to Be Executed in Texas Is Innocent, U.K. Lawmaker Says
The Associated Press, Feb. 3, 2003
http://abcnews.go.com/

Fresh evidence proves a British man due to be executed in Texas this week is innocent, a lawmaker said Monday.

John “Jackie” Elliott was convicted of the 1986 rape and murder of 18-year-old Joyce Munguia in East Austin, Texas, and is due to die Tuesday by lethal injection. Elliott, who was sentenced in 1987, is being held at Polunsky Prison, near Livingston, Texas.

John Gummer, a Conservative member of Britain’s Parliament and a former Cabinet minister, said Elliott was unfairly tried.

“I’ve become more and more convinced that he is innocent,” Gummer told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. “Last-minute work is being done to see if we can get the sentence commuted.”

Elliott, who has dual U.S. and British nationality, is hoping for clemency from the Texas Pardons and Paroles Board after an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court failed. His lawyers are seeking a hearing to study DNA evidence.

Gummer, who represents the constituency where Elliott was born in 1960, said a new witness had emerged in the last few days with testimony claiming Elliott is innocent. He said the witness attributed the murder to one of Elliott’s co-defendants, who testified against Elliott and received a lighter sentence.

Gummer also said Elliott’s trial was unfair because he had an inexperienced lawyer, and added it was “outrageous” that no DNA tests were taken at the time of the trial.

“Even if you believe in capital punishment, you have to be absolutely sure that you have got the right person,” he said.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw last Thursday phoned the Texas Pardons and Paroles Board and asked it to commute Elliott’s death sentence to a prison term.

Britain abolished capital punishment in 1965.

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