JACKSON, Mississippi — Death row inmate Willie Jerome Manning has asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to look again at his case.
In a request filed Friday, Manning's attorneys said the Supreme Court overlooked or misunderstood some matters raised in Manning's motion for DNA and other forensic testing.
Manning continues to insist that technological strides in the past two decades in DNA testing could lead to proof that he is innocent of killing two Mississippi State University students in 1992.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling Thursday, rejected those claims. The court set Manning's execution for May 7 at 6 p.m. at the penitentiary at Parchman.
Manning received two death sentences for the slayings of Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, whose bodies were discovered in rural Oktibbeha County on Dec. 11, 1992. Each was shot to death, and Miller's car was missing. The vehicle was found the next morning.
Prosecutors said Manning was arrested after he tried to sell some items belonging to the victims.
Manning, now 44, said in Friday's motion that the Supreme Court should not allow his execution to proceed "without taking all reasonable steps available to ensure the accuracy of the conviction."
"For the DNA claim, the court overlooked the undisputed evidence that the technology for testing much of the biological evidence, primarily hair evidence, was not available at the time of trial," Manning's attorneys said.
Four justices on Thursday sided with Manning.
Justice Leslie King found particular fault with the prosecution's handling of hairs found Miller's car. King said court records show an analysis of the hairs revealed they were from a black person. King said prosecutors told the jury the hairs were from a black person, Manning is black and because he is black Manning killed the two white students.
"Should a DNA test demonstrate that the African-American hairs found in Miller's cart did not belong to Manning, then the infirmity in the prosecution's emphasis on the importance of the evidence would be exposed. And it would certainly raise reasonable questions regarding Manning's guilt," King said.
In the majority opinion, Justice Michael Randolph, said Manning's conviction was based on substantially more evidence than what Manning was challenging.
Randolph said prosecutors said at trial that the hair fragments were only corroborative evidence — not that they were a match for Manning. He said the defense obtained testimony that other blacks had been seen in Miller's car before her slaying.
"The absence of Manning's DNA does not preclude his participation in the crimes charged. Manning fails to demonstrate a reasonable probability that he would not have been convicted or would have received a lesser sentence if favorable results had been obtained through such forensic DNA testing at the time of the original prosecution," Randolph said.