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N.C. Court Stops Execution for Test

May 11, 2006

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) _ An inmate scheduled for execution this week won a reprieve Wednesday when the state Supreme Court ruled he deserved a new DNA test that could back up his claim of innocence.

Jerry Wayne Conner, 40, was scheduled to die by injection Friday. He was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings in 1990 of store clerk Minh Rogers and her 16-year-old daughter, Linda, who also was raped.

Prosecutor Frank Parrish said he was skeptical about the need for more testing but planned to comply with the judge’s order.

``I do not expect it will change anything one whit,″ Parrish said.

Defense lawyers argued for a new DNA test, saying current procedures are better than those available at the time of trial. The defense also has pointed to another man seen near the store the night of the slayings as a possible suspect.

``As we have said from the beginning, we believe that a DNA test is the only way that the state of North Carolina can be confident that the right person is being punished for these crimes,″ said defense lawyer Mark Kleinschmidt.

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