Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Culture of life, Texas-style

Yahoo! News - Texas may have put innocent man to death, panel told

With Texas' criminal justice system the subject of intense scrutiny for a crime lab scandal and a series of wrongful convictions, a state Senate committee heard testimony Tuesday about the possibility that Texas had experienced the ultimate criminal justice nightmare: the execution of an innocent person.

Fourteen months after Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in the nation's busiest death chamber, a renowned arson expert and Willingham's lawyer told the Senate Criminal Justice Committee that they believed Willingham might have been innocent but found nobody willing to listen to their claim in the days before the execution in February 2004.
A Tribune investigation of the Willingham case last December showed that he was prosecuted and convicted based primarily on arson theories that have since been repudiated by scientific advances--a fact backed up by testimony Tuesday by one of those experts, Gerald Hurst.

According to Hurst and three other fire experts who reviewed evidence in the case at the Tribune's request, the original investigation that concluded the fire was arson was flawed, relying on theories no longer considered valid. It is even possible the fatal fire at the Willingham home in Corsicana, a small town about an hour south of Dallas, was accidental, according to the experts.

And in Tom DeLay's home state. Imagine that.


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