TEXAS: NEW INVESTIGATION CONFIRMS EXECUTION OF AN INNOCENT MAN
August 31, 2009: Broad body of evidence points to wrongful execution of texan Cameron Todd Willingham white, 36 at the time of execution. An extraordinary new investigative report in the New Yorker shows that Willingham was telling the truth. He was innocent. David Grann's report, in the September 7 issue, exhaustively deconstructs every aspect of the case and shows that none of the evidence used to convict Willingham was valid.
Since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976, Grann's report constitutes the strongest case on record in this country that an innocent man was executed. In his final hours on death row, Cameron Todd Willingham and his attorneys tried frantically to show the governor of Texas a new scientific report proving his innocence. The evidence was apparently ignored, and Willingham was executed on February 17, 2004.
During his trial, he refused prosecutors' offer to give him life in prison instead of the death penalty. He told them he was innocent, and he wouldn't agree to any deals. As he was strapped down in the execution chamber, just before the lethal injection began, he proclaimed his innocence one last time. Willingham had been convicted of the Dec. 23, 1991 arson that killed his young daughters, 2-year-old Amber Kuykendall and 1-year-old twins Kameron and Karmen Willingham.
Every fire expert who has examined this case since the time of conviction has concluded that there was no evidence to support the finding of arson. According to the Innocence Project, this new report "exhaustively deconstructs every aspect of the case and shows that none of the evidence used to convict Willingham was valid." It goes beyond the forensic science that has been the focus of investigations for the last five years and debunks every other piece of evidence, including the snitch testimony, witness testimony, and circumstantial evidence.
The New Yorker piece comes on the heels of a report filed last week with the Texas Forensic Science Commission by fire scientist Craig L. Beyler, who found that the investigators in this case had a "poor understanding of fire science" and that "a finding of arson could not be sustained."
The Commission now will examine Beyler's report and issue its own findings with regard to the allegations of forensic misconduct in this case. "Simply put, there appears to be no doubt that Cameron Todd Willingham would not have been convicted if he was put on trial today, much less sentenced to death and executed," said Kristin Houle, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty." (Sources: Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, The New Yorker, New York Times, Marshall News Messenger, Dallas Morning News, 31/08/2009)