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October 16, 2009

"Willingham juror no longer sure of his guilt in Texas case"

The title of this post is the headline from this new CNN piece.  Here are excerpts:

At least one member of the jury that sentenced Cameron Todd Willingham to death in the arson homicides of his three children says she is struggling with the idea that she might have convicted an innocent man.

It has been 17 years since Willingham was convicted in Texas of setting a house fire that killed his children, a crime Willingham vehemently denied right up until his execution in 2004. Since that time, three investigations have concluded arson was not the likely cause of the 1991 fire, including one that arrived in Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office 88 minutes before the scheduled execution....

The controversy has led juror Dorenda Brokofsky to think twice about the decision she made in a jury room in 1992. "I don't sleep at night because of a lot of this," Brokofsky said. "I have gone back and forth in my mind trying to think of anything that we missed. I don't like the fact that years later someone is saying maybe we made a mistake, that the facts aren't what they could've been."

Brokofsky spoke with CNN by phone from her Midwest home. She has long since moved away from tiny Corsicana, Texas, where the fire took place. "I do have doubts now," she said. "I mean, we can only go with what we knew at the time, but I don't like the fact now that maybe this man was executed by our word because of evidence that is not true. It may not be true now. And I don't like the fact that I may have to face my God and explain what I did."

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October 16, 2009 at 09:43 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Defense counsel are often blamed for revictimizing victims when they help their clients seek postconviction relief, stays of execution, medical parole, etc. Can we now blame the district attorneys who sought conviction on such flawed evidence for victimizing this poor juror? Or do they get a pass, as usual, because they were (mis)guided only by their righteous zeal to punish the evildoers?

Posted by: Observer | Oct 16, 2009 10:42:35 AM

Or, if Willingham is guilty (and it certainly appears that way), then why is it ok to put jurors through this?

Posted by: federalist | Oct 16, 2009 1:21:35 PM

"Or, if Willingham is guilty (and it certainly appears that way)...."

federalist, you forgot to cite a newspaper article as proof like you usually do. Search the Google News archives for 1992, cite the source, and then we can believe you.

Posted by: George | Oct 16, 2009 2:01:43 PM

The idea of the jury was a great technical innovation in the 1000's. The jurors knew the parties for years. It brought in the wisdom and temperance of a crowd. It chopped off the extreme decisions on either end.

Today, all with knowledge get excluded. The lawyer wants to run the Broadway show of the trial. Notes are not allowed. Questions to witnesses by jurors are not allowed, even if the juror feels the necessity of some knowledge not brought out by the lawyer.

Only the first secret ballot has any scientific validity. After that, the verdicts reflects the decision of the big loudmouth and the rest who just want to home.

Regrets are not surprising.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 17, 2009 9:08:38 AM

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