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Ind. Delays Execution to Allow DNA Tests

July 29, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Gov. Frank O’Bannon delayed a man’s execution to allow for a DNA test sought by defense attorneys and backed by a prosecutor and three jurors.

The governor’s order Monday for a 60-day stay allows for testing of blood stains found on Darnell Williams’ clothing after the 1986 shooting of a Gary couple. Williams was to be executed Friday.

Williams’ attorneys say tests could show the blood was from neither of the two shooting victims, which would contradict evidence presented at trial.

The prosecutor who tried the case, Thomas Vanes, and three jurors who helped convict Williams also support the DNA testing, a request twice rejected by the Indiana Supreme Court.

O’Bannon, in office since 1997, had never before stopped an execution.

Williams and Gregory Rouster were convicted in the shooting deaths of John and Henrietta Rease, who operated a small candy store from inside their home in Gary. The couple were Rouster’s former foster parents, and he apparently believed they owed him money, prosecutors said.

The trial court in the case recently found that Rouster, now known as Gamba Rastafari, is mentally retarded and revoked his death sentence. That judgment is not yet final.

Earlier Monday, Vanes told the state parole board it was unjust for the state to execute Williams while Rouster escaped the death penalty.

Several of Williams’ relatives cried and hugged outside O’Bannon’s office after the statement was read.

``We’re not so cold that we don’t understand and don’t feel something for the other family,″ said Willie Mae Davidson, Williams’ aunt. ``But what’s done is done, and if he did not do it, why should he die for it?″

Two relatives of Henrietta Rease told the board she was a loving woman who gave disadvantaged children a home, only to be killed in a heinous crime.

``I wish my aunt was here to tell you how good she was, but my aunt isn’t here,″ said Carletha Davis, Henrietta Rease’s niece.

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