In letters sent to us during May, Willie Manning has referred gratefully to the support that he received when he was at his most vulnerable:
“It’s difficult for me to even wrap my mind around the support that we got from all the wonderful people around this world. That really felt good to know that so many people were concerned, and gave me strength.”
A month ago that support was desperately needed. On May 2, Willie’s Motion for Rehearing was denied, and petitions to Governor Bryant had been started. On May 3 Attorney General Jim Hood was dismissive about Willie’s request for DNA testing of biological evidence, referring to ‘dilatory defense tactics’ in which the defense ‘waits until the 11th hour to raise such claims’ (read his statement at worldnow.com).
In fact, defense lawyers were very far from dilatory. As far back as 2001 they filed a motion in the state court to inspect the physical evidence; this motion was ultimately denied by the state supreme court in 2006, but then granted by the federal court. After inspecting the evidence, defense attorneys filed a motion with the federal court for DNA testing. Some rudimentary testing was done on some of the materials, but no DNA testing has been performed on any of the evidence.
With the Attorney General construing a process started in 2001 as ‘dilatory’, Willie clearly needed friends. And, to Willie’s eternal gratitude, those friends appeared.
We still haven’t heard anything at all from the Mississippi Supreme Court. But if Willie’s request for DNA testing is ultimately denied, we will have had more time to absorb the facts. We will know that for Willie the eleventh hour began in 2001.