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Houston Official Seeks Halt on Executions

September 30, 2004

HOUSTON (AP) _ Inmates whose convictions rested on evidence analyzed at the troubled Houston crime lab should not be executed until the work can be reviewed, the city’s police chief said Thursday.

The crime lab’s DNA section has been closed since a 2002 audit revealed possible contamination of evidence, inadequate training for analysts and insufficient documentation.

Police Chief Harold Hurtt said it would be ``very prudent″ for authorities ``to delay further executions until we’ve had an opportunity to re-examine evidence that played a particular role in the conviction of an individual that was sentenced to death.″

Hurtt’s statement came a day after lawyers for Edward Green III asked a judge to postpone his execution because of problems at the lab. Green, 30, is scheduled to die Tuesday for the fatal shooting of two people in their car during a robbery 12 years ago in Houston.

The police chief said he could not comment specifically on Green’s case because he had not reviewed it, but said that case and several others played a role in his decision.

It is not clear how many cases are at stake. A total of 459 inmates are awaiting execution on Texas’ death row. Eleven executions are scheduled to take place before the end of the year, including eight from Harris County, which includes Houston.

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