Friday, February 23, 2024

Hank Skinner Dies on Texas Death Row

Hank Skinner, Texas

Updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Hank SkinnerHank Skinner was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, September 13, 2023, inside the execution chamber at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Hank died at the age of 60, while awaiting his execution. He was convicted of murdering 40-year-old Twila Jean Busby and her two sons 22-year-old Elwin Caler and 20-year-old Randy Busby, in their Pampa, Texas home on December 31, 1993. Hank spent the last 28 years of his life on Texas’ death row.

Hank Skinner grew up in Virginia, where he eventually married and divorced his first wife. After the divorce, he moved to Texas, where he met Twila Busby at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The two quickly fell in love. They were known for their public displays of affection and enjoyed watching thrilling movies together.

On New Year’s Eve 1993, the couple made plans to go to a friend’s house and celebrate, however, Skinner started celebrating early with codeine and vodka. By the time they were to leave for the party, Skinner was passed out on the couch and his friends were unable to forcibly rouse him. Twila went to the party without him.

Also at the party was Robert Donnell, Twila’s uncle. Allegedly, the two had previously had an incestuous relationship. Twila often attempted to avoid Robert and repeatedly told her friends over the years that she was scared of him. During the party, Robert repeatedly made advances towards Twila, eventually causing her to leave early. Robert also left a short time later. It was the last time anyone definitely saw Twila alive.

Just before midnight, Twila’s son, Elwin “Scooter” Caler arrived on the neighbor’s porch, seeking help. He was bleeding from multiple stab wounds. After the police arrived, the followed the blood trail back to Twila’s house. Inside they discovered Twila had been brutally beaten to death. Her other son, Randy, had been stabbed three times in the back, killing him.

Police immediately identified Skinner as the primary suspect. He was later found and arrested several blocks away at the house of an old girlfriend. Skinner had blood on his clothes and a deep gash in his hand.

The ex-girlfriend later testified at trial that Skinner had showed up, banging on her door, demanding she stitch up his injured hand. She also claimed that Skinner was drunk and disoriented. Throughout the next several hours, Skinner made numerous claims as to how he received his injuries. Eventually, after swearing her to secrecy, Skinner admitted that he thought he had killed Twila. The ex-girlfrined later recanted her testimony.

DNA evidence showed that the blood on Skinner’s clothing matched the blood of the victims. A bloody handprint found at the scene of the crime was matched to Skinner. Other DNA evidence also linked him to the crime scene and the murder weapons. He was charged, convicted, and sentenced to death for the murders.

Skinner has insisted he is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted. He alleges that he was too drunk to commit the murders and that when he awoke he fell on some glass, slashing his hand. The blood on his clothes came from walking out of the house with Scooter. During his decades on death row, Skinner continued to press for additionally DNA testing. While some additional testing was conducted it did not prove conclusive.

Hank Skinner died on February 16, 2023, at Hospital Galveston, in Galveston, Texas. He was 60 years of age. His death was reportedly due to complications following a surgery in December 2022, to remove a brain tumor.

Pray for peace for the family of Twila Busby, Randy Busby, and Elwin “Scooter” Caler. Pray for the family of Hank Skinner.

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