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Meeting could decide death row fate

PUBLISHED: 05:31 28 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

A CRUCIAL meeting could decide the fate of a Felixstowe-born man awaiting execution on death row for a murder and rape which he has always denied.

Time is running out for 42-year-old Jackie Elliott's campaigners and family as they try desperately to win a stay of execution and have evidence tested for DNA.

A CRUCIAL meeting could decide the fate of a Felixstowe-born man awaiting execution on death row for a murder and rape which he has always denied.

Time is running out for 42-year-old Jackie Elliott's campaigners and family as they try desperately to win a stay of execution and have evidence tested for DNA.

John Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal, spent four days in Austin, Texas, to meet legal teams and discuss the case of Elliott who was sentenced to death for killing an 18-year-old teenager, a mother of one child, in 1986.

Mr Gummer has returned after his mercy mission to the United States and he is hoping that his efforts will finally persuade the authorities that there has been a miscarriage of justice.

Lawyers acting for Elliott and the district lawyer will meet tomorrow.

The defence team want the case to be reopened and the go-ahead given for DNA tests to be carried out. If the district attorney's team refuse the request then Elliott's future will be decided by the 17 members of the Board of Paroles and Pardons meeting on Friday, four days before the scheduled execution.

Mr Gummer has written a letter to the Board appealing for clemency.

"He is a British subject and in those circumstances we do have to put the case and the point to the Board that the evidence on which he was convicted has some very serious gaps in it and there are some real concerns.

"It would help a great deal if they would cancel the date of the execution and instead ensure that there were these tests for the DNA which we believe could show clearly that he was in fact not guilty.

"I tried to say there was a strong feeling in this country that it should be looked at again and that the DNA tests should be made. There was no resentment, they did understand why I had come but in the end it is their decision," said Mr Gummer.

The odds are stacked against winning a reprieve. Texas executes more people than any other American state.

It has rejected 289 appeals for clemency in a row except for one case where the condemned man was terminally ill.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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