Friday, September 05, 2003



A man facing execution for a 1984 double murder got a chance to prove his claim of innocence Fwhen a judge ordered DNA testing of a cigarette butt found at the scene of one killing.

Henry Lee Hunt, 58, is scheduled for execution at 2 a.m. Sept. 12. His attorney said the state crime lab could produce results within seven days.

At issue is Hunt's contention that he wasn't present when police informant Larry Jones was killed and buried in rural Robeson County.

Prosecutors have said a cigarette butt found at the scene was the same brand Hunt smoked; it never was tested. Hunt also was convicted of killing Jackie Ransom, whose wife paid to have him killed to make a second marriage legal.

If the butt tests negative for Hunt's DNA, his claim of innocence would be strengthened, said defense lawyer Steven Holley.

"We're going to be under a very tight timetable, even if we get it next Thursday," Holley said outside court. "The cigarette butt is one more piece of the puzzle. Mr. Hunt is adamant that he didn't kill anybody."

Holley said if the butt tests negative for DNA, it also will strengthen arguments to Gov. Mike Easley to change the sentence to life in prison.