The Left has been salivating for months, making the case that Virginia may have put to death an innocent man. It all looked so good. There were claims of other semen, not enough time to do the crime and, of course, the executed man who proclaimed his innocence to the bitter end. But it was all for naught. Climax delayed.
A first hand account of Coleman's Fry Day from Kathy Still, a friend of the woman he murdered:
My hands shook as I struggled to write down his last words. He spoke quickly. For him, death was a minute away.
"An innocent man is going to be murdered tonight," he said. "When my innocence is proven, I hope America will realize the injustice of the death penalty as all other civilized countries have."
I wondered how many times those words had come from the lips of those who sat in the same chair before him. I wondered whether an innocent person ever sat in that chair.
The DNA Tests Confirm EXECUTED Va. Man Guilty
RICHMOND, Va. Jan 12, 2006 — New DNA tests confirmed the guilt of a man who went to his death in Virginia's electric chair in 1992 proclaiming his innocence, a spokeswoman for the governor said Thursday.
The case had been closely watched by both sides in the death penalty debate because no executed convict in the United States has ever been exonerated by scientific testing.
The tests, ordered by the governor last month, prove Roger Keith Coleman was guilty of the 1981 rape and murder of his sister-in-law, Gov. Mark R. Warner's spokeswoman Ellen Qualls said.
Coleman was convicted and sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of 19-year-old Wanda McCoy, his wife's sister, who was found raped, stabbed and nearly beheaded in her home in the coal mining town of Grundy.
A finding of innocence would have been explosive news and could have had a powerful effect on the public's attitude toward capital punishment. Death penalty opponents have been warning for years that the risk of a grave and irreversible mistake by the criminal justice system is too great to allow capital punishment.
Initial DNA and blood tests in 1990 placed Coleman within the 0.2 percent of the population who could have produced the semen at the crime scene. But his lawyers said the expert they hired to conduct those initial DNA tests misinterpreted the results. [Let me just say what you are thinking. ["Misinterpreted" is code for 'getting it right'. Muslims are always saying that accusatory infidels are 'misinterpreting' Islam. What they mean is accusatory infidels are 'getting it right.' and they don't like that because it interferes with dawa and taqiyya.]
The governor agreed to a new round of more sophisticated DNA tests in one of his last official acts. Warner, who has been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2008, leaves office on Saturday.
Coleman's case drew international attention as the well-spoken inmate pleaded his case on talk shows and in magazines and newspapers. Time magazine featured the coal miner on its cover. Pope John Paul II tried to block the execution. Then-Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's office was flooded with thousands of calls and letters of protest from around the world.
Coleman's attorneys argued that he did not have time to commit the crime, that tests showed semen from two men was found inside McCoy and that another man bragged about murdering her. [Isn't that too funny. Lawyers=liars]