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December 2, 2009

Latest news on Cameron Todd Willingham case and debate over his guilt

This new AP story provides the latest news on the Texas case which may provide an example of an innocent person who was executed.  Here is how it begins:

David Martin is sickened by the suggestion that Texas executed an innocent man when Cameron Todd Willingham was put to death for setting a fire that killed his three children.

The veteran defense attorney represented Willingham at trial.  He looked at all the evidence.  And he has no doubt that his client deserved to die.  "I never think about him, but I do think about those year-old babies crawling around in an inferno with their flesh melting off their bodies," Martin said. "I think that he was guilty, that he deserved death and that he got death."

The 2004 execution, however, didn't end questions about the case. Fire investigator experts hired first by The Innocence Project and later by the Texas Forensic Science Commission concluded the original finding of arson was seriously flawed.  Without that finding, prosecutors have admitted it would have been hard to win a death sentence against Willingham.

But the reports have done nothing to change the minds of Martin and four jurors reached by The Associated Press in recent weeks, who all remain convinced Willingham set the blaze 18 years ago that killed 2-year-old Amber and 1-year-old twins Karmon and Kameron.  They never heard from Willingham, who declined to take the stand in his own defense.

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Comments

"They never heard from Willingham, who declined to take the stand in his own defense."

I guess the 5th amendment doesn't exist in Texas.

"I think that he was guilty, that he deserved death and that he got death."

As well as a vigorous defense.

Posted by: asdf | Dec 2, 2009 1:46:36 PM

I think the fact that he listened to Iron Maiden and had a tattoo of a skull pretty clearly indicates that he was a murderer.

All that "forensic science" stuff is just so much hokum. You get a feeling in your gut about a defendant, thats what you listen to.

God Bless Texas

Posted by: rageahol | Dec 2, 2009 2:57:07 PM

Maybe if Willingham had a defense attorney who cared a little more and believed in his client a little more, then said defense attorney would have hired said fire investigator experts on his own and done so a long time ago. And the jury could have reached an entirely different result. Such comments from his own defense attorney lead me to have less confidence in the jury's result.

Posted by: quite telling | Dec 2, 2009 3:27:04 PM

That is an interesting stance especially from a defense attorney. Isn't he supposed to have his client's best interests at heart or step away from the case?

Posted by: Disability Insurance | Dec 2, 2009 3:31:08 PM

Memo to Prof. Berman: You keep harping on this case. The subtext is, if I may be allowed to read your mind, your intent, your mens doctus, put a hold on the DP until the problem of innocence is solved.

I suggest you stop taking cars, bicycles, train, airplanes until the problem of accidents has been solved. These modes of transportation kill 1000 as many innocent people as the death penalty each year, and in a grisly, slide and dice, butchery type way, by metallic edges.

If I were innocent, I would be screaming it to anyone willing to listen. It is out of the question that an innocent man refuses to take the stand in his own trial for the gruesome murder of his family. Think about what would be normal in that scenario. You have lost your family, and now are being falsely accused of its murder. Would that be a time for shyness?

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Dec 2, 2009 11:14:25 PM

"Maybe if Willingham had a defense attorney who cared a little more and believed in his client a little more, then said defense attorney would have hired said fire investigator experts on his own and done so a long time ago."

Did you read the article? If so, how could you miss this section:

The defense didn't present a fire expert of its own - for good reason, Martin said.

"We hired one ... and he said: `Yep. It's arson,'" Martin said. "It was really very, very clear what happened in the house. Everybody who saw it, of course, reached the same conclusion."

Posted by: jason | Dec 3, 2009 11:29:03 PM

Anyone who believes that all committee meetings of the Texas Forensic Science Commission should be public and not private, secret closed door meetings, should write commission Chair John Bradley and other Commission members urging them to make the meetings public and to post notices on the Commission website of when and where the subcommittee meetings will take place.

Urge Texas Forensic Science Commission to Hold Public Meetings in Todd Willingham Case

Posted by: Scott Cobb | Apr 24, 2010 8:18:45 PM

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