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Supreme Court to hear Death Row inmate's appeal
10/7/2005 2:10 PM

The Supreme Court will hear an appeal from a South Carolina man on Death Row, who has claimed for years that another man committed the crime.

Bobby Lee Holmes, 33, was convicted of the rape and murder of an 86-year old woman on New Year’s Eve in 1989.  Holmes claims that Jimmy McCaw White, 37, actually committed the crime and has even bragged about it.

Holmes’ attorneys will attempt to establish evidence of third-party guilt.  They will challenge the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling that evidence of third-party guilt could not be presented to a jury.  Holmes’ defense is based on the testimony of four people who say White told them he raped the victim.  White voluntarily submitted to a DNA test, though, and his DNA was not found anywhere in the evidence. The victims’ DNA, however, was found on Holmes’ underwear and clothing. 

The U.S. Supreme Court will determine whether South Carolina’s rules regarding admittance of third-party evidence deprived Holmes of his 14th Amendment due process right to present a complete defense.  If the Supreme Court rules in Holmes’ favor, not only will he get a new trial, but the standard for admitting third-party evidence in South Carolina could change. 

Compiled from: Justices to rule in pivotal S.C. case, Adam Beam, The, 28 Sept. 2005; Supreme Court to Consider Third Death Penalty Case Involving Issues of Innocence, Death Penalty Information Center.