Thursday, September 11, 2003


Dateline: North Carolina...

The State Bureau of Investigation failed to get a good DNA reading from a cigarette butt that a defense attorney said could help clear death-row inmate Henry Lee Hunt , whose execution is scheduled early Friday.

A prosecutor and Hunt's attorney said Thursday that the SBI's crime lab tested the Kool cigarette butt for saliva DNA at the request of Hunt's attorneys and with the agreement of state Justice Department officials. Investigators found the stub near the body of one of two people Hunt was convicted of murdering near Lumberton in 1984. It had not been tested before.

Hunt's lead attorney , Stuart Meiklejohn of New York, said Thursday that the SBI told him it had obtained "no conclusive DNA profile" from the cigarette butt. Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said the SBI told him the same thing.

Meiklejohn said he wants a private laboratory to analyze the SBI test results or run a new test. He said he will ask a Lumberton judge to delay Hunt's execution if necessary to accommodate additional testing. Britt said he would oppose that.