Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man?
The debate continues over the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham last February. Chicago Trib reporters Maurice Possley and Steve Mills outlined the case and its disputed forensics last month.
...trapped to a gurney in Texas' death chamber earlier this year, just moments from his execution for setting a fire that killed his three daughters, Cameron Todd Willingham declared his innocence one last time. "I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime I did not commit," Willingham said angrily. "I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do."
While Texas authorities dismissed his protests, a Tribune investigation of his case shows that Willingham was prosecuted and convicted based primarily on arson theories that have since been repudiated by scientific advances. According to four fire experts consulted by the Tribune, the original investigation was flawed and it is even possible the fire was accidental.
Today a Chicago Tribune editorial focuses on the errors in the Willingham case to make the point:
That's what passes for justice in Texas. The Willingham case undermines the notion that we execute only those we know to be guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." It should send a shiver across the nation.
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