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The Secret Board -> Man executed on disproven evidence, experts say
 
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  DDF
 
May 2, 2006 3:43:27 pm
 
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Man executed on disproven evidence, experts say
quote:
Four of the nation's top arson experts have concluded that the state of Texas executed a man in 2004 based on scientifically invalid evidence, and they called for an official re-investigation of the case.

In a report released this morning, the experts, assembled by the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization responsible for scores of exonerations, concluded that the conviction and 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson-murders of his three daughters was based on interpretations by fire investigators that have been scientifically disproved.


Chicago Tribune article in the Orlando Sentinel

In other words, it's likely that an innocent man was executed.


 
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  Millwood
 
May 2, 2006 3:45:35 pm
 
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quote:
DDF said...


In other words, it's likely that an innocent man was executed.




Shit happens


 
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  Anita Fallis
 
May 2, 2006 3:48:34 pm
 
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quote:
DDF said...
quote:
Four of the nation's top arson experts have concluded that the state of Texas executed a man in 2004 based on scientifically invalid evidence, and they called for an official re-investigation of the case.

In a report released this morning, the experts, assembled by the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization responsible for scores of exonerations, concluded that the conviction and 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson-murders of his three daughters was based on interpretations by fire investigators that have been scientifically disproved.


Chicago Tribune article in the Orlando Sentinel

In other words, it's likely that an innocent man was executed.




"Likely" might be a little strong at this point. He may have still done it.

"Possible" is what you were looking for.

 
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  IPTAY FAMILY
 
May 2, 2006 3:50:18 pm
 
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quote:
DDF said...
quote:
Four of the nation's top arson experts have concluded that the state of Texas executed a man in 2004 based on scientifically invalid evidence, and they called for an official re-investigation of the case.

In a report released this morning, the experts, assembled by the Innocence Project, a non-profit organization responsible for scores of exonerations, concluded that the conviction and 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson-murders of his three daughters was based on interpretations by fire investigators that have been scientifically disproved.


Chicago Tribune article in the Orlando Sentinel

In other words, it's likely that an innocent man was executed.





Were the interpretations wrong at the time or since disproven?

 
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  tvwxman
 
May 2, 2006 3:51:33 pm
 
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It's Texas, so it has to be Bush's fault.

 
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  IPTAY FAMILY
 
May 2, 2006 4:07:41 pm
 
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Look on the bright side....if he is innocent, he is with is daughters.

If he is guilty, he is burning like they did.

 
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  GordieHoweHat-trick
 
May 2, 2006 4:13:35 pm
 
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quote:
DDF said...In other words, it's likely that an innocent man was executed.


If he was innocent, he will be the first exectuted defendant who was later exonerated by DNA.

This guy, who was poster child for the wrongfully accused being executed was later proved guilty:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/12/AR2006011201210.html

quote:
Modern DNA tests have confirmed the guilt of a Virginia man who had proclaimed he was innocent of murder and rape even as he was strapped into the electric chair and executed more than a decade ago, the governor announced yesterday.

The results stunned and disappointed those who have fought a 25-year crusade to prove that Roger K. Coleman was innocent. They also dashed hopes among death penalty foes that the case would catalyze opposition to capital punishment across the country.



 
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  DDF
 
May 2, 2006 4:20:03 pm
 
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quote:
IPTAY FAMILY said...
Were the interpretations wrong at the time or since disproven?



It's hard to say. More like someone should have asked tougher questions at the time instead of taking some guy's word for it.

quote:
The experts were asked to perform an independent review of the evidence following an investigation by the Tribune that showed Willingham had been found guilty on arson theories that have been repudiated by scientific advances. In fact, many of the theories were simply lore that had been handed down by several generations of arson investigators who relied upon what they were told.


quote:
In strong language harshly critical of the investigation of the 1991 fire in Corsicana, located southeast of Dallas, the report said evidence examined in the Willingham case and relied upon by fire investigators was the type of evidence "routinely created by accidental fires."


quote:
The arson report singled out the testimony at Willingham's trial of Manuel Vasquez, a deputy Texas state fire marshal, who said he found numerous indicators in the debris that he interpreted as evidence Willingham intentionally set the fire.

"Each and every one of the 'indicators' listed by Mr. Vasquez means absolutely nothing?," the report states.


quote:
At Willingham's trial, Vasquez and Corsicana assistant fire chief Doug Fogg testified that the fire was deliberately set and pointed to numerous "indicators" as proof. One of those indicators was "crazed glass," a phenomena they said was caused by a fire that burned so hot and so fast that it could only have been caused by an accelerant.

But the new report notes that scientific testing has established that crazed glass can be caused by the act of spraying water on hot glass; in effect, the act of extinguishing a fire was being used to prove that the fire was an arson.


quote:
The report urges authorities to examine other cases as well. "To the extent that there are still investigators in Texas and elsewhere, who [misinterpret fires], there will continue to be serious miscarriages of justice."

"In the cases of individuals already convicted using what is now known to be bad science [or no science], the courts should treat the 'new' knowledge as 'newly discovered evidence,' " the report states. "It was resistance to this concept that allowed the state to execute Mr. Willingham, even though it was known that the evidence used to convict him was invalid."





 
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  crashprocter
 
May 2, 2006 8:11:31 pm
 
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quote:
GordieHoweHat-trick said...

This guy, who was poster child for the wrongfully accused being executed was later proved guilty:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/12/AR2006011201210.html





The CEO of the anti-death penalty group that had supported this guy "feels betrayed" and can't understand how he could have lied. Reality check: he's a rapist and murderer. Do you think lying to limp-wristed activist is going to give him pause?

 
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  HowardRoark
 
May 2, 2006 8:16:15 pm
 
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quote:
DDF said...Man executed on disproven evidence, experts say

Better luck next time.


 
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  GordieHoweHat-trick
 
May 2, 2006 8:31:10 pm
 
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quote:
crashprocter said...The CEO of the anti-death penalty group that had supported this guy "feels betrayed" and can't understand how he could have lied. Reality check: he's a rapist and murderer. Do you think lying to limp-wristed activist is going to give him pause?


As long as you continue to remember this, you're going to make one**** of a prosecutor.

 
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  clambake
 
May 2, 2006 11:06:15 pm
 
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A Florida paper reports that a New York not-for-profit, based upon the report of a panel from Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, and Maryland, corroborates the findings of an Illinois newspaper regarding a misconviction in Texas.
 
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  DDF
 
May 2, 2006 11:36:22 pm
 
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quote:
clambake said...
A Florida paper reports that a New York not-for-profit, based upon the report of a panel from Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, and Maryland, corroborates the findings of an Illinois newspaper regarding a misconviction in Texas.



What? You think Texas authorities would investigate this themselves?

 
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  clambake
 
May 3, 2006 7:38:09 am
 
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http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/US/willingham899.htm

When firefighters arrived at the burning five-bedroom house on Corsicana's south side, Willingham was outside. At his trial, neighbors said he was outdoors even before flames engulfed the place and was concerned about his car getting scorched. Prosecutors contended he just wanted to get rid of the children. Evidence at his trial showed an accelerant, believed to be charcoal lighter fluid, was used to ignite the floors, a front threshold to the house and on a concrete porch. A fire marshal testified the placement of the accelerant was designed to impede any rescue efforts by firefighters.



Willingham, a 10th grade dropout, had a history of violence and a record of felony and misdemeanor convictions both as an adult and juvenile. He said he got hooked on inhalants as a young teenager and was in and out of treatment centers beginning at age 14. He also spent time at a boot camp in Oklahoma. Evidence at his trial showed he was abusive to his family and once beat his pregnant wife with a telephone to try to force a miscarriage. "I was a sorry husband, a piece of crap as husbands go," he acknowledged from death row. "I was so full of myself and so dumb."

Willingham's wife initially supported him and testified on his behalf at his 1992 trial. But Kuykendall told the Corsicana Daily Sun earlier this month that after reviewing case and meeting with her former husband in prison recently, she doesn't buy his version of the events that day. "It was hard for me to sit in front of him," she said. "He basically took my life away from me. He took my kids away from me."

 
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  Matheos
 
May 3, 2006 7:53:43 am
 
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quote:
clambake said...
http://www.clarkprosecutor.org/html/death/US/willingham899.htm

When firefighters arrived at the burning five-bedroom house on Corsicana's south side, Willingham was outside. At his trial, neighbors said he was outdoors even before flames engulfed the place and was concerned about his car getting scorched. Prosecutors contended he just wanted to get rid of the children. Evidence at his trial showed an accelerant, believed to be charcoal lighter fluid, was used to ignite the floors, a front threshold to the house and on a concrete porch. A fire marshal testified the placement of the accelerant was designed to impede any rescue efforts by firefighters.



Willingham, a 10th grade dropout, had a history of violence and a record of felony and misdemeanor convictions both as an adult and juvenile. He said he got hooked on inhalants as a young teenager and was in and out of treatment centers beginning at age 14. He also spent time at a boot camp in Oklahoma. Evidence at his trial showed he was abusive to his family and once beat his pregnant wife with a telephone to try to force a miscarriage. "I was a sorry husband, a piece of crap as husbands go," he acknowledged from death row. "I was so full of myself and so dumb."

Willingham's wife initially supported him and testified on his behalf at his 1992 trial. But Kuykendall told the Corsicana Daily Sun earlier this month that after reviewing case and meeting with her former husband in prison recently, she doesn't buy his version of the events that day. "It was hard for me to sit in front of him," she said. "He basically took my life away from me. He took my kids away from me."



But DDF said he was likely innocent, so I don't believe any of this.

 
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  Daddyman
 
May 3, 2006 8:43:08 am
 
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quote:
GordieHoweHat-trick said...
If he was innocent, he will be the first exectuted defendant who was later exonerated by DNA.




Right, but what about the over 175 people they have PROVEN to be not guilty despite spending years and years in prisons?



 
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  clambake
 
May 3, 2006 8:50:13 am
 
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I was wondering when Daddyman would chime in.

How about it Daddyman, was the guy guilty or not?

 
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  IPTAY FAMILY
 
May 3, 2006 10:44:07 am
 
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quote:
Daddyman said...
quote:
GordieHoweHat-trick said...
If he was innocent, he will be the first exectuted defendant who was later exonerated by DNA.




Right, but what about the over 175 people they have PROVEN to be not guilty despite spending years and years in prisons?





0 exonerated after being put to death
175 exonerated after spending years in jail

Says to me that the system is more likely to keep an innocent man in jail for the rest of his like than to execute him. Also says to me that the system of appeals and procedures to protect the accused in a death penalty case are working pretty well to insure that the right person is put to death. So if I'm really innocent, I'd rather be sentanced to death (in California time, not Texas time) than life in prison.

 
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  GordieHoweHat-trick
 
May 3, 2006 11:06:37 am
 
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quote:
Daddyman said...
quote:
GordieHoweHat-trick said...
If he was innocent, he will be the first exectuted defendant who was later exonerated by DNA.




Right, but what about the over 175 people they have PROVEN to be not guilty despite spending years and years in prisons?



Whoa 175?

Per the U.S. DOJ as on December 31, 2004, there were 2,135,901 people in prison. Assuming all 175 were in prison in 2004, that means that 99.99918% were not exonerated.

C'mon Daddyman you know wayyyyyyyyyyy more guilty walk than innocent men are put in prison.

Would have us stop putting people in jail?


 
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  clambake
 
May 3, 2006 11:38:19 am
 
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Okay, I waded through the report (one of the experts is a lawyer with an undergrad degree from Tech). The report doesn't say the fire wasn't intentionally set. It says that the way the Fire Marshal determined that it was intentionally set was consistent with the more current interpretations of the day, which have since been proven less than reliable. It also says that the only way to determine categorically whether the fire was started using an accellerant is through forensic testing in state crime labs, which were only just beginning to be used for that purpose.

A couple other things it mentions is that egress through the back door was blocked by a refrigerator and that Willingham was breaking window panes at the front of the house with a pool cue.

But nowhere in the 49 page report does it say that the fire was not arson.

 
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