Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm Innocent

by blogger ADD

Texas is on the verge of admitting that it executed an innocent man. The man in question was tried and convicted on faulty forensics.

In 1991,
fire swept through Cameron Todd Willingham's small home. He escaped but his 3 daughters did not. Despite having no clear motive, he was charged with arson. Willingham who had prior run ins with the law was tried, convicted, and executed in 2004.

The new report criticizes the former fire marshal who investigated the blaze and testified for the prosecution. The report states that his testimony was based upon his personal opinion and was not based in science. The report added that the investigators showed poor understanding in fire science and that a finding of arson could not be sustained.

"If something comes out of his execution that would improve the criminal justice system and keep a tragedy like this from happening in the future, it's a very big deal," explained Robert Udashen, a Dallas attorney, who’s also a member of The Innocence Project, which brought the case to the state’s attention.

The Willingham investigation is only the second the Texas Forensic Science Commission has ever conducted. They plan a statewide meeting next month in Las Colinas.


Texas Moratorium Network said...

Sign the petition to Governor Rick Perry and the State of Texas to acknowledge that the fire in the Cameron Todd Willingham case was not arson, therefore no crime was committed and on February 17, 2004, Texas executed an innocent man.

We plan to deliver the petition at the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on October 24 in Austin at the Texas Capitol.

dudleysharp said...

no evidence of innocence in the Willingham case.

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Anonymous said...

The fact that the report states that the fire marshal's testimony was based on "personal opinion... investigators showed poor understanding in fire science and that a finding of arson could not be sustained" definitely raises red flags. The man was charged with arson even though a finding arson was not sustained. There just seems so many things wrong with this case and that they just wanted to prosecute this man even without having the proper science to back it up. A possibly innocent man was executed because proper investigation was not sought. I hope that with this more care will be taken with future cases.


Anonymous said...

This report basically states, that an untrained and inexperienced department knowingly testified against a man who possibly could have been innocent. The marshal testified on "his opinion", which doesn't provide justice. While this man had lost his 3 daughters in this incident, he also had to wait in prison for his own death sentence. I would like to know, if there were appeals filed and how they went? Obviously this was not a proper investigation.


Anonymous said...

To me this case showed that there was a lack of evidence towards the defendant and he must of had an unfair trial. This shows a lack in texas justice system. How is it that years after the system executes a man, its determined that he was innocent? This man must've suffered tremendously after loosing his 3 daughters, then being convicted of their murders, and awaiting his own death! Will their be any restitution from the state to his family because of their careless mistake?


Anonymous said...

I believe that the man should never have been convicted of arson because there was no hard evidence that he had committed the crime. There should have been further investigation & analysis of evidence to be sure of what had happened. This man's execution was based on the feelings of those involved in convicting him, not on hard evidence and facts. LAT

Anonymous said...

What will happen if they find evidence that this man WAS innocent? What will happen to the officials involved in his execution?


Anonymous said...

The whole case seems a bit faulty to me. It appears to me that just because Cameron Todd Willingham had prior run ins with the law that made him automatically a suspect even though no clear motive was established. Knowing his prior background the former fire marshal wrongly suspected Willingham of arson which led to his testimony being based on his personal opinion.

Anonymous said...

How did the "father" survive, but his three daughters did not. What man would save himself but not his own children. There is nothing innocent about leaving your three daughters to burn to death. Or, he might have tried his best but was retained by the police/fire dept. In that case I am completely wrong and withdraw my statement. The original article should have said something about the fire marshall's evidence or lack thereof instead of describing an attorney's opinion. It sounds kind of like a one sided story how it sits.

Anonymous said...

I think this is terrible, if the fire marshal was not using scientific evidence he should have been testifying. This case should have been handled more professionally and with greater care. Even if the man was guilty he did not get a fair trial and that is a huge misjustice.

Anonymous said...

I think that it’s hard to draw a solid conclusion without knowing everything from both sides. However, it seems that this man was mainly tried on his previous record instead of being given a fair trial. It appears that the people did not ensure this witness was completely credible nor did they make sure his testimony was sound before sentencing someone to death. To sum it up, it seems that he was tried on previous wrong doings and on a bad reputation alone. This trial should have been taken a lot more seriously and more thoroughly looked at especially since we are talking about someone’s life. No matter what decisions they have made in the past.

Anonymous said...

I think it's clear that there needs to be improved standards for training in fire investigation. Several of the statements the fire investigators made, including that the fire burned "fast and hot" only because of the presence of a liquid accelerant*, are not based in scientific fact and in fact, have been debunked by actual scientific testing. It's terrifying how badly this case was bungled every step of the way, from the investigation to the petition for clemency.

*Experiments have shown that wood and gas-based fires can burn at essentially the same temperature.


Anonymous said...

I love the Innocence Project and everthing that it is doing for falsely convicted individuals. I am extremely disappointed in the fire marshal and the investigators. As law enforcement employees it was their responsibility to state that they were unexperienced or not sure of the evidence in their report. Also I feel as though the attorneys are also at fault for not stating during the trial that in the report there was no evidence that sustained arson. Everyone involved in this case should suffer some consequences. As a side note, I would have liked to know the race of Cameron Todd Willingham and the race of the fire marshal and investigators.


Cialis said...

I’m always a little hesitant to write about it but I think you are one of the best in this category but you should add something else, maybe more sources.

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