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New appeal questions ballistics testimony

Willie Jerome Manning (Mississippi Department of Corrections, WTVA)
Willie Jerome Manning (Mississippi Department of Corrections, WTVA)
Reported by: Mel Carlock
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Updated: 5/07/2013 10:53 am
JACKSON, Miss. (WTVA) -- Attornies for Willie Jerome Manning filed a brief this morning with the Mississippi Supreme Court, this time questioning ballistic evidence and testimony presented at trial.

Manning is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman for the murders of John Steckler of Natchez and Tiffany Miller of Madison.

In their latest efforts to have the execution halted, the attornies say a letter from the U. S. Department of Justice calls into question testimony presented involving bullets recovered during the investigation.

An FBI firearms expert testified three bullets recovered during an investigation matched bullets taken from a tree near Manning's home.

The agent testified they were fired from the same gun and couldn't not have been fired by any other firearm.

In their latest brief, Manning's lawyers say the new letter states the expert was wrong to mention they came from the same gun and not from any other weapon.

The DOJ letter says he should have testified to a "reasonable degree of scientific certainty, but not absolutely."

Late Monday, his lawyers questioned why DNA evidence collected from fingernail scrapings and from a rape kit was never tested.

Attorney General Jim Hood filed a response to that motion claiming the state crime lab found no bodily fluids in their examination of the scrapings or the kit.

He says those findings show there was nothing to conduct a DNA test on.

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