death penalty news—–TEXAS

Oct. 18


Perry uses clemency sparingly on death row—-Governor has never called
off an execution on a claim of innocence

Former governor says it may be time to end death penalty In nearly 9 years
as Texas governor, Rick Perry has never spared a life based on a claim of
innocence and only once delayed an execution in such a case, according to
a Chronicle review of public records, clemency statistics and information
from the governor's office.

During that same period, officials in other death penalty states granted
clemency for humanitarian reasons at least 200 times 171 based on
questions of innocence in Illinois alone.

Texas has executed 200 convicts under Perry's watch, but he has spared
just one condemned man's life in a case in which he was not compelled to
do so by the U.S. Supreme Court. In that case, the inmate Perry saved in
2007 was not a killer but the admitted driver of a getaway car, condemned
alongside the triggerman in a joint trial under Texas' tough "law of

Clemency the use of executive power to reduce, forgive or delay a
sentence is considered the last fail-safe in the death penalty review
process nationwide.

Yet in Texas, it is almost never granted. In fact, at least 50 of the past
200 executions were carried out without any clemency board review at all,
a Chronicle analysis of state execution and parole board statistics shows.
Other death row inmates' final pleas for mercy were rejected for arriving
after the board's deadline.

Most of the nation's 35 death penalty states grant clemency powers to the
governor. In the other 8 states, including Texas, the governor relies on
recommendations from a parole board. Perry uses the State Board of Pardons
and Paroles, whose members he appoints, to decide whether to commute death
sentences or grant longer reprieves though he can and has carried out an
execution the board voted to halt.

On his own, the governor can issue last-minute reprieves of up to 30 days.
Perry has done so only twice.

The Willingham case

Perry has come under fire in recent weeks for his rapid dismissal of just
such a request from Cameron Todd Willingham, executed in 2004. To the end,
Willingham claimed he was innocent of setting a house fire that killed his
3 daughters. Though an arson expert's opinion faxed to Perry's office 88
minutes before the execution cast doubt on Willingham's guilt, the
governor has refused to release records to indicate whether he read it
before the man was put to death.

In an e-mail sent by his office, Perry defended his clemency review
process as careful and thorough. Prior to executions, a member of the
governor's general counsel's staff reads case documents and briefs Perry
at least once.

"The governor believes making decisions in death penalty cases is one of
the most serious considerations a governor is asked to give," the
statement said. "He believes that all cases deserve the kind of careful
review he and his staff provide. He weighs the totality of all issues."

In Texas, alone among the states that use parole boards for execution
cases, the board never meets to review applications from the condemned.
Instead, its members vote via fax. Efforts to reform the process have been

"No matter where you stand on capital punishment, I think we can all agree
that life and death decisions should be taken more seriously than sending
a fax," said Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, a longtime reform advocate and
death penalty supporter who oversaw 3 executions as acting governor in

"Since 1999, I have been pushing legislation to make the Board of Pardons
and Paroles' clemency process in death penalty cases more fair and open,
to at least get on a conference call before they vote to take someone's
life," he said.

Paddy Burwell, a retired Exxon geophysicist who served on the parole board
from 1999-2005, recalled several troubling death row reviews when he said
he received subtle pressure from other members to vote against clemency.

"I don't think they care whether a person is guilty or not guilty,"
Burwell said.

Perry had used his power to issue last-minute delays twice before
Willingham's execution in 2004. But neither involved a claim of potential
innocence. He granted a 30-day reprieve in 2002 to allow authorities to
interview a condemned man about other crimes. He delayed another execution
because of court closures caused by the Sept. 11 attacks.

Perry granted his 1st and only reprieve for a death row inmate claiming
innocence in December 2004, 10 months after Willingham's execution. Acting
on a board recommendation, Perry delayed for 120 days the execution of
Frances Newton, a Houston woman convicted of the 1987 shooting of her
husband and children, "to allow the courts the opportunity to order a
retesting of gunpowder residue on the skirt the defendant wore at the time
of the murders and of the gun used in the murders."

"After a lengthy review of the trial transcript, appellate court rulings
and clemency proceedings, I see no evidence of innocence," Perry said.
"However, I am granting the additional time. … Justice delayed in this
case is not justice denied."

"After a lengthy review of the trial transcript, appellate court rulings
and clemency proceedings, I see no evidence of innocence," Perry said.
"However, I am granting the additional time. … Justice delayed in this
case is not justice denied."

The tests were not exculpatory, and Newton was executed.

Spared by high court

In 2005, Perry commuted the sentences of 28 death row inmates convicted of
murders committed before turning 18. Those commutations were ordered by
the U.S. Supreme Court decision. He did the same thing in the 2 other
cases involving severely mentally disabled offenders affected by another
high court decision.

Only rarely has the Texas parole board recommended commutation of a death
sentence without a high court mandate. But it did so in May 2004.

Kelsey Patterson shot and killed 2 people in Palestine in 1992 and then
returned home, laid down his gun, removed everything but his socks and
began walking up and down the street. Though found competent, Patterson, a
paranoid schizophrenic, ranted at trial about devices planted inside him.
As his execution approached, Patterson failed to recognize his lawyers.
The board voted to spare his life.

Perry sent him to his death.

In 2007, the board again recommended commutation in the case of Kenneth
Foster, the admitted getaway driver in a San Antonio murder who had been
convicted in the same trial as the shooter. Perry commuted Foster's
sentence to life in prison on the day he was to have been executed.

"After carefully considering the facts of this case, along with the
recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles, I believe the right
and just decision is to commute Foster's sentence," Perry said. "I am
concerned about Texas law that allowed capital murder defendants to be
tried simultaneously."

Perry later supported reforms to end joint capital murder trials in Texas.

(source: Houston Chronicle)


Death penalty foes emboldened by Willingham case

Regardless of how it ultimately plays out, the roiling controversy over
the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham is already energizing death
penalty opponents into a renewed attack on capital punishment in Texas.

Gov. Rick Perry, depicting Willingham as a "monster" who murdered his
children in a Christmastime house fire in 1991, says that opponents of the
death penalty are using the case as "propaganda" to promote their cause.
But advocacy groups that oppose capital punishment say the possibility
that Texas may have put an innocent man to death underscores the need to
end or seriously restrict the states executions.

"It has raised a lot of questions," says Scott Cobb, director of the Texas
Moratorium Network. "No matter how things turn out, people are looking at
the death penalty in a new light. They're saying if it could have happened
in the Willingham case, it could have happened in other cases."

Texas has a global reputation as the most prolific execution state in the
country, having put 441 inmates to death since the U.S. Supreme Court
reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

Willingham was No. 320, executed Feb. 17, 2004, after he was found guilty
of setting his Corsicana home afire and killing his 3 daughters a
1-year-old and 1-year-old twins. Willingham reasserted his claims of
innocence in his final statement just before the sentence was carried out.

Perry, as well as investigators and prosecutors, say evidence
overwhelmingly supported the jurys decision, which was affirmed at each
step of the appeals process. But several noted arson experts who
re-examined the fire investigation say it relied on outmoded concepts and
did not support a finding of arson. The Texas Forensic Science Commission
opened a review of the arson investigation in 2008, but the inquiry
stalled this month after Perry replaced four members of the panel.

Although Texans have traditionally strongly supported the death penalty
surveys generally show a breakdown of about 75 % for and 25 % against
Barry Scheck, co-founder of the New York-based Innocence Project, says
that Texans are "beginning to think twice" about capital punishment.

Scheck's organization has led the push for a re-examination of
Willingham's execution and features details of the case on its Web site,
including a photograph of Willingham with 1 of his daughters perched on
his shoulders. Scheck said questions raised by the investigation
contribute to the "widespread perception that the process of trying these
cases has broken down."

Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins, whose office has helped
obtain exonerations for 20 wrongfully convicted defendants in Dallas
County, says "it may be wise for all DAs throughout the state to implement
a policy . . . to make sure mistakes weren't made" in prosecuting capital

In Fort Worth, Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon says he
supports the death penalty "in the proper case" but said prosecutors need
to ensure that correct procedures are followed and that the evidence is
sound. "If you're going to have the death penalty," he said, "you need to
do it right."

Other questionable cases

Cobb says concern over Willinghams execution could also prompt a
re-examination of several other executions in which questions have been
raised, either by advocacy groups or newspaper investigations.

One case centers on Ruben Cantu, a teen-age offender who was executed in
1993 for shooting a San Antonio man during an attempted robbery. A
two-part investigation by the Houston Chronicle in 2005 concluded that
Cantu "was likely telling the truth" when he denied being involved. A key
eyewitness who survived being shot in the robbery attempt at first
identified Cantu as the assailant but recanted, the newspaper reported.

Questions have also been raised in the 1997 execution of David Spence,
convicted of killing three teen-agers in a botched killing-for-hire scheme
that became known as the Lake Waco murders. A convenience store manager
was also charged and sentenced to death but was acquitted in a new trial.
He said repeatedly that neither he nor Spence was connected to the
killings. A homicide investigator involved in the case also expressed
doubts about Spence's guilt.

"The problem is that Texas goes so fast and executes so many people," Cobb
said. "That creates the environment of making more mistakes."

The Willingham case is also likely to fuel efforts to find new safeguards
against wrongful convictions.

The Timothy Cole Advisory Panel on Wrongful Convictions began a yearlong
effort last week to develop legislative remedies against false eyewitness
identification, fraudulent testimony from snitches and other criminal
justice flaws that could land the wrong person behind bars. The panel was
created by the 2009 Legislature and named after Tim Cole, a wrongfully
convicted inmate from Fort Worth who died in prison and was posthumously

Austin battle brewing

Cobb said death penalty opponents are already gearing up for the next
session of the Legislature in 2011 with plans to call for a moratorium and
a study panel to examine Texas' death penalty policies. "A lot is going to
happen between now and then," he said. "I see radically increased support
for a moratorium after the Willingham case."

But law enforcement groups, prosecutors and other death penalty supporters
are also expected to marshal their forces to help keep the death penalty
in place. Perry and U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who are battling for
the Republican nomination in the 2010 governor's race, are both ardent
death penalty supporters.

"I think the people of Texas believe in the death penalty and believe its
an appropriate sanction," said state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, vice
chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, which will hold
hearings on the forensic commission next month. "But they also believe it
should be administered with unerring accuracy."

Charley Wilkison, spokesman for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations
of Texas, said the 17,500-member organization will continue to make the
case that capital punishment deters murder and helps protect police.

If the death penalty were repealed in Texas, he said, "It would be
absolutely an open season on policemen by drug dealers, transnational
gangs and other criminals if the consequences were only life in prison
with a decent bed, a TV and three squares."

(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)


Local attorney says controversy helpful in arson execution case

After years of trying, local attorney Walter M. Reaves Jr. thinks he is
closer than ever to exonerating a Corsicana man who was executed for arson

The work of a state panel examining the case of Cameron Todd Willingham
has come to a halt. But Reaves said the case wont be forgotten any time
soon because of national media attention focused on the role that Gov.
Rick Perry has played in the inquiry.

Some observers think the case could prove what death penalty opponents
have long argued that the judicial system is flawed to the point where
innocent people can be put to death. At the very least, Reaves said, the
case is exposing the faulty fire science used to convict Willingham and
scores of others who are still imprisoned.

Reaves represented Willingham during part of his appeals process and has
continued to try to clear his name even after his death.

"I think it's going to be beneficial," Reaves said last week of the
renewed attention on the case, which he discussed with the Tribune-Herald
before Willingham was executed in 2004. "At least people are starting to
talk about it."

Willingham's claim that he did not set the 1991 house fire that killed his
3 young daughters in Corsicana was bolstered a couple of weeks ago when a
report from a fire-science expert hired by a state panel was released.
That expert, Baltimore-based Craig Beyler, concluded that the arson
finding in the case was not scientifically supported and that
investigators at the scene had "poor understandings of fire science."

Beyler was scheduled to present his findings to the Texas Forensic Science
Commission on Oct. 2. The commission is designed to examine cases in which
forensics or expert testimony may have been misused. It doesn't have the
power to rule on Willingham's guilt or innocence but was expected to
release a report next year on the validity of the arson investigation.

2 days before the Oct. 2 meeting, however, Perry replaced 3 members of the
nine-member commission, including its chairman. He later replaced a 4th
member. The upheaval caused the meeting to be canceled.

Motive questioned

Some critics say Perry made the replacements to stall the inquiry for
political reasons. Perry, who was governor at the time the 36-year-old
Willingham was executed, faces a strong challenge from U.S. Sen. Kay
Bailey Hutchison in the Republican primary in March.

Perry, however, has dismissed those suggestions, calling the replacements
a matter of "process." He said capable new members of the panel will move
forward with the investigation.

Perry also has tried to downplay the significance of Beyler's report,
saying Willingham was "a monster" and that suggestions otherwise are
anti-death-penalty propaganda. He pointed out that Willingham's
convictions were upheld several times before he was put to death and said
media reports have glossed over evidence that he killed his daughters,
2-year-old Amber and 1-year-old twins, Karmon and Kameron.

Despite those pronouncements, Reaves said it is clear to him that Perrys
actions were politically motivated and that the commission is now a
political body without credibility. Perry didn't like that Beyler reached
the same conclusion that other arson experts have reached, Reaves said, so
he acted to derail the panel's work.

Reaves had been invited to speak at the meeting that was canceled and had
submitted written comments to the commission about Beyler's report, at its

"I think the governor has handled it as bad as he could have handled it,"
Reaves said. "My prediction is that (the commission) is going to drop the
case altogether and not do anything with it."

If that happens, Reaves said, he will explore other ways to continue
having Willingham's case heard. Several other leading experts besides
Beyler have concluded that all the indicators the original fire
investigators said proved arson are invalid.

Those experts include Gerald Hurst, who reviewed the case before
Willingham was executed. As Hurst pointed out to the Tribune-Herald in
2004, a new manual that is now the standard for arson investigations was
released shortly after the Willingham investigation. The manual debunks
many beliefs investigators previously held about fires.

For example, investigators used to think fires burned quicker and hotter
if an accelerant was used. They also thought the presence of certain
markers meant a fire had multiple points of origin, indicating a fire had
been intentionally set. Scientific experiments have since disproved such

Although the experts' findings may not conclusively clear Willingham in
some people's minds, Reaves said they are enough to say the system failed.

"People lose sight of the fact that we can argue about it all day long,
but the bottom line is that if they were to try the case again, there is
no way any jury would convict," Reaves said. ". . . If there's no arson,
there's no case."

Mark Osler, a Baylor University law professor and former federal
prosecutor, said he thinks the Willingham case has the potential to change
public opinion of the death penalty. It's the 1st case in the United
States to have credible evidence that suggests a strong possibility that
an innocent person was executed, he said.

Legal precedent

The case may also further open the door to the idea that people can be
definitively cleared of crimes without DNA evidence, Osler said. While
it's great so many wrongful convictions have been exposed through DNA
evidence, the question of how the system may have failed others without
such testing available to them remains open, he said.

"You only have DNA in certain kinds of cases, but doubt you have in many
kinds of cases," Osler said.

Reaves agreed, saying he is optimistic that Willingham's case will help
further expose the use of "junk science" in criminal cases. One case in
particular that will likely benefit, he said, is that of Ed Graf.

Graf was convicted of killing his 2 stepsons by burning them alive in a
storage shed behind their Hewitt home in 1986. He is serving a life
sentence in a Gatesville prison.

Reaves thinks Graf is innocent and has been poring over the case with the
help of Baylor students who are part of an innocence project at the law
school. Many of the techniques used by fire investigators at the time have
since been disproved, just like with the Willingham case, he said.

Reaves and the students are waiting for Grafs case to be evaluated by a
panel of national arson experts assembled for the purpose of looking at
cases where faulty fire science may have resulted in wrongful convictions.

(source: Waco Tribune-Herald)


Rick Perry's Chief of Staff Writes Dishonest Letter-to-Editor Regarding
Release of Todd Willingham Execution Memos

The Chief of Staff of Governor Rick Perry, Ray Sullivan, has a
letter-to-the-editor in today's Longview News-Journal criticizing the
paper's Wednesday editorial in which the paper criticized Perry for
refusing to release all the documents in the Todd Willingham case that
would show whether and to what extent the Governor considered the
information given to them by Willingham's lawyer on the day of the

Sullivan says the News-Journal is "just plain wrong", but actually
Sullivan is just plain wrong, and he knows he is wrong, so he must be
wrong on purpose, which is also called being dishonest. Sullivan says the
Governor has "repeatedly made Mr. Hurst's four-page opinion public", but
Sullivan knows that the criticism of the governor in the editorial is not
about Hurst's letter, but it is that he has not released the memo or memos
from Perry's own staff that were used by the governor in his decision
making process regarding whether to stay the Willingham execution and has
refused to release any documents that would show whether Hurst's letter
was read personally by Perry himself.

The people of Texas expect the governor to be fully engaged in decisions
on the day of an execution in order to prevent innocent people from being
executed. They also expect that the Governor will not engage in a campaign
to cover up and delay a state-funded report submitted to a public agency,
such as the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Sullivan knows that Perry
continues to refuse to release all the relevant documents and that is why
many people are concluding that Perry is hiding something that would
reflect poorly on him.

Sullivan also says in his letter that "we know full well that Texas
newspapers oppose the death penalty, even for the most terrible crimes",
which is dishonest too. There are only two major Texas newspapers we know
of that have endorsed abolishing the death penalty, so implying that many,
most, all or more than 2 major Texas newspapers oppose the death penalty
is exceedingly dishonest.

According to a June 2009 news article in the Statesman, "Sullivan has
worked on previous Perry campaigns. He has also been a lobbyist. His
clients this year have included Banc Pass Inc., Compass Environmental
Inc., Exelon Power Texas, Global Options Inc., HNTB Corp., Redflex Traffic
Systems Inc. and Silver Eagle Distributors".

Below is Sullivan's letter-to-the-editor and below that is the editorial
he is responding to.

News-Journal editorial off base

In their collective rush to defend a convicted child murderer executed in
2004, many in the Texas press are routinely missing the facts about Gov.
Rick Perry and the Cameron Todd Willingham case. The News-Journal's
editorial on Wednesday is just the latest example.

Governor Perry routinely makes his official schedules, correspondence and
other documents available to the press and public. Our office fully
complies with the Public Records Act. In fact, the governor has gone above
and beyond by voluntarily releasing personal tax returns, detailed
campaign finance data and putting office expenses online.

The News-Journal is just plain wrong about the opinion of Gerald Hurst in
the Willingham murder case. Governor Perry's office has repeatedly made
Mr. Hurst's four-page opinion public, an opinion considered by the Fifth
Circuit Court of Appeals and the Governor's Office before they upheld the
jury verdict in the Willingham case.

We know full well that Texas newspapers oppose the death penalty, even for
the most terrible crimes. However, Willingham was convicted by a Texas
jury of murdering his 3 little girls based on the evidence, including a

He was executed only after Texas courts, federal appeals courts and the
U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the case and all of the evidence. The case was
upheld in every appeal, including nine times by federal courts. Governor
Perry is sworn to uphold Texas law, and does so every day.

Ray Sullivan, Austin, Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor

The editorial that Ray Sullivan was responding to was from October 14 and
titled, "Governor's secrets: Perry's refusal to release documents the
latest example". It is copied in full below. Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gov. Rick Perry is the state's longest-serving governor, even if he gets
defeated next year by U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison – who plans to resign
next month or so to take on the governor in the Republican primary. Perry
pays lip service to freedom of information and sunshine in government, but
the fact remains he is arguably the most secretive governor in modern-day
state history. His refusal to release the files he reviewed before the
execution of Cameron Todd Willingham is just the latest example in a long
line of actions designed to keep the public in the dark about the
governor's travels, correspondence and how decisions are made.

As has been reported, Perry replaced four members of the state Forensic
Commission two days before it was to hear testimony from an independent
arson expert, Craig Beyler, hired by the commission. Beyler believes the
Corsicana house fire that killed three of Willingham's children was not
intentionally set, and the original investigation was terribly flawed.

Willingham was executed in 2004 for the crimes. He went to the death
chamber proclaiming his innocence to the end. By replacing those four
members, Perry managed to delay the panel hearing the arson report,
probably until after the March primary. After all, it wouldn't help his
re-election chances if his commission concluded the state executed an
innocent man. Sadly, it is very possible that is exactly what happened.

Now Perry is refusing to release the documents he examined to make his
decision that the execution should proceed. Among those documents was a
report from another arson expert, Gerald Hurst, who also questioned
whether the Corsicana fire was arson.

As Keith Elkins, executive director of the Freedom of Information
Foundation of Texas put it in a story Tuesday in the Dallas Morning News:

"Texas leads the nation in the number of executions. I think everyone
would want to know that the decisions to execute someone are being based
on the best possible information."

A state Senate panel plans to hold hearings in early November to look into
the forensic commission and how it intends to proceed in the Willingham
investigation. At least that's one committee with which the governor can't
interfere. But he would if he could, we suspect.

(source: Today)


Why is Perry defensive?

Re: "Fire expert calls Perry 'unethical' — Aide questions motives;
governor labels executed Corsicana man 'monster,' " Thursday news story.

In dismissing evidence available to him but not the jury that a lethal
fire was likely not arson, Gov. Rick Perry can see no possibility that the
loss of life was a tragic accident. He now argues the justness of an
execution because the man was an (unconvicted) wife-beater.

I understand that he must reach peace with his decisions. But by
ridiculing improved forensic science to diagnose arson as being brought to
us by latter-day so-called experts and by trying to block the Texas
Forensic Science Commission from examining advances in forensic science,
Perry consigns our institutions to repeating the same mistakes about
life-or-death evidence.

This is not just about whether one man might have been found guilty or
innocent with evidence available at the time of execution that was
different from the evidence at trial. It is about accountability for
responsible implementation of the death penalty. That is a standard we
should all want to meet. What is Perry afraid of?

Bill Luthans, Dallas

(source: Letters to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)


That Damn Death Penalty – Again

I have posted many articles on Women in Crime Ink about the death penalty,
especially in the State of Texas. There have been several incidences
recently which scream out for a revisit of this unpopular and hateful
subject.<>P> I read an article yesterday in the local Houston paper that
our Supreme Court refused to give Linda Carty a new trial – even though
her trial lawyers did not put on any mitigating evidence and only met her
2 weeks before jury selection. Linda Carty did a terrible thing. She
kidnapped a woman and her 4-day-old baby, and killed the mother. Do not
misunderstand – I, of all people, am well aware of the horrible acts that
one person can commit against another. It is sickening and disgusting.
That doesn't change the fact that we must have rules and laws that we all
obey we're going to take a person's life in the name of our law.

I admit I don't know all the facts of the Linda Carty case. Thank goodness
I wasn't involved in it — and I hope that if I had been, no one could say
she had an incompetent defense. But the 2 failures in her defense are
enough in my mind to give pause to the Supreme Courts decision.

A defense attorney has a duty to "know" his client — especially one who
may die as a result of the attorney's laxity or ineptness. It is
indefensible for a lawyer to not meet his client until 2 weeks prior to
trial. It is indefensible for a lawyer to know so little about his client
that he has no witnesses and records to present to the jury during the
punishment phase of a capital case. How can any attorney convince a jury
that mercy — life in prison instead of execution — is appropriate
without a complete picture of the defendant's background? What kind of
life did this person live? What negative influences may have changed his

This attorney is not arguing guilt or innocence. If he convinces the jury,
it won't mean the defendant will walk out of the courtroom and down the
elevator with you.

Then, there is the arson murder case of Cameron Todd Willingham.
Willingham was convicted of setting a fire that killed his 3 children. I
don't have the words to express my outrage at how ignorant and uninformed
Gov. Rick Perry sounded when he said the there was other evidence besides
the state's arson experts to prove the cause of the fire. The State of
Texas had to prove arson if the jury were to reach a capital murder
verdict. The problem is that fire experts, not just someone the
post-conviction lawyers pulled off the streets, but individuals renowned
in the field, now condemn the state's arson testimony as bogus and
unscientific. Oh, did I forget to mention – Texas has already executed
Cameron Todd Willingham. He was most certainly an innocent person. At
least, Perry must be afraid he was. In October, Perry abruptly replaced
the chairman and 2 members of the state's Forensic Science Commission — 2
days before they were to hear the evidence of the arson expert.

Rick Perry doesn't like the idea that while he sat on his ass and refused
to look at the reputable fire scientists' evidence, Cameron Todd
Willingham died.

Is there one person out there who can state that Cameron Todd Willingham
is the only innocent person Texas has executed? I dare you to make that
statement. You would have to ignore the evidence related to the cases of
Carlos DeLuna and Ruben Cantu, just to name 2. There are many more. But,
the issue is – even if there is one, just one – that is one too many.
Killing another human being, through an act of violence or an act of the
supposed legal system of Texas our State, is final. We can't bring that
person back to life. We took that away from him or her, and we did it

Our capital punishment system in Texas — and elsewhere — is flawed. It
is not dispensed fairly. It is not certain. Arrogant, self-centered,
unqualified politicians decide whether new evidence is sufficient to stop
an execution. These same arrogant, self-centered politicians — so-called
judges — tell us that "actual innocence" is not enough to warrant a new
trial, let alone stop an execution.

What in the hell are we doing?

(source: Katharine Scardino, Women In Crime Ink)