IS IT AN ATTEMPT TO AVOID A DATE WITH DEATH?

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Prosecutors and defense attorneys were squared off Wednesday in a Montgomery County courtroom. 

The battle is over convicted killer Larry Swearingen. 

Swearingen is attempting to get new DNA tests done and a delay in his execution date set for February.

Swearingen was convicted of killing Montgomery College student Melissa Trotter back in 2000.

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Swearingen defense attorneys say their client deserves new DNA tests but they don’t want the results rushed and compromised by the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office.

Phil Hilder, who represents Swearingen,  says they want the tests done properly without any questions.

However, assistant Montgomery County District Attorney Warren Diepraam says it’s a delay tactic for Swearingen to avoid another date with death for the murder of Trotter.

A judge is expected to make a ruling on the two issues!

Update from District Attorney: Judge Kelly Case of the 9th District Court today heard arguments from the Innocence Project and prosecutors for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s office in the State of Texas vs. Larry Swearingen. Swearingen was found guilty of Capital Murder in 2000 for the rape and kidnapping murder of Melissa Trotter, a college student. Swearingen’s previous appeals including requests for DNA testing, numbering more than ten, have all been denied. Swearingen’s Innocence Project lawyers recently filed a fourth motion for DNA testing of selected evidence. The previous three were rejected by the courts due to the overwhelming evidence of guilt in the case. Montgomery County District Attorney, Brett Ligon, however agreed to the request for DNA testing stating that he wanted to look into all evidence in the case whether the defendant was entitled to it or not. Ligon further agreed to pay for the testing and offered to send the evidence to the lab of the defense’s choosing to be tested immediately by the defense’s scientists. In an unprecedented move, the Innocence Project lawyers objected to Ligon’s offer agreeing to their testing and sought to have the items released for delayed testing under the statute that the courts have previously ruled they were not entitled to. The defense also sought a stay of the execution in order to accommodate the delayed testing. Judge Case heard arguments today from Montgomery County prosecutor Warren Diepraam. Diepraam asked the judge to authorize the release of the evidence to the defendant’s lab for testing and asked the court to allow independent scientists to determine what tests to run on the evidence. He further asked the judge to deny the stay of execution because if the scientists found Swearingen’s DNA on an item of evidence, the case will have been reset for nothing and the Trotter family will have to suffer another unnecessary delay. Judge Case denied the prosecution’s request for immediate DNA testing and stayed the execution. This ruling has no effect on the jury’s death sentence and may ironically prevent Swearingen from getting any DNA testing since the appellate courts have ruled he is not entitled to delayed testing. Ligon indicated that he will keep his offer open for a limited time. The prosecutors now have 60 days to file a response to the defense’s request for delayed testing. Diepraam stated that he accepts the judge’s ruling and believes the judge who replaced judge Edwards on January 1st needs more time to review the case and the evidence. Bill Delmore acted as co-counsel on the case and is Ligon’s appellate chief who indicated that he will most likely not appeal this ruling by the judge because it may cause further unnecessary delay.