Evidence challenged: Miss. court blocks execution

Court Watch Posted on

The Mississippi Supreme Court has indefinitely delayed Tuesday's scheduled execution of Willie Jerome Manning amid questions involving evidence in the case, intervening hours before he was set to die for the slayings of two college students.

Manning, who had challenged errors involving evidence analysis, was originally set to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. CDT at the state prison in Parchman. But with mere hours remaining, the high court blocked the execution until it rules further in the case.

Manning was convicted in 1994 in the shooting deaths of two Mississippi State University students, Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller. Their bodies were found in a rural area in December 1992.

The FBI has said in recent days that there were errors in agents' testimony about ballistics tests and hair analysis in the case.

Manning's lawyers had argued in recent filings before the Mississippi Supreme Court that the execution should be blocked based on the U.S. Justice Department's disclosures about testimony that it says exceeded the limits of science.

The court ruled 8-1 on Tuesday for a stay. The court had previously split 5-4 in decisions in the case.

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