Aug 31, 2009

Innocent Man Executed, Good Enough for Texas

Update: See also this morning's column by Bob Herbert, Innocent but Dead.

Update: What type of man would oversee an innocent being killed and then still defend it? One of the prosecutors, John H. Jackson, who ignores all the exculpatory evidence presented, seeing fit to further smear an innocent killed by the state of Texas. Jackson says Cameron Todd Willingham was "offered the opportunity to eliminate himself as a suspect by polygraph examination. Such opportunity was rejected in the most vulgar and insulting manner ..." Is this idiot kidding? Typical imbecility.

Cameron Todd Willingham is an innocent man and was murdered by the state of Texas in 2004 by lethal injection.

David Grann's new piece in the New Yorker on Cameron Todd Willingham is a must read for anyone vaguely concerned about justice and liberty in America. Shocking. But why the dearth of comment from rightwing libertarians?

Cameron Todd Willingham [at right with child] was killed because he was convicted of killing his three small children by intentionally setting his house on fire.

But the crime never happened, and Willingham refused a plea for a life sentence as he proclaimed his innocence until he was killed.

David Grann uncovers new exculpatory evidence and reviews the shabby evidence presented in court including:

- A photograph of an Iron Maiden poster and other music posters that hung in Willingham’s house that caused "Tim Gregory, a psychologist with a master’s degree in marriage and family issues" to testify that the images "displayed 'violence' and 'death.'" The same conclusion applies to Willingham’s "Led Zeppelin picture of a falling angel".

- The testimony of a bone-headed Texas state fire marshal knocked down in a just-released report by an expert, Craig Beyler, of Hughes Associates Inc, investigating the fire marshal's testimony and science. Reads the Chicago Tribune: "The state fire marshal on the case ... had 'limited understanding' of fire science. The fire marshal 'seems to be wholly without any realistic understanding of fires and how fire injuries are created,' he wrote. The marshal's findings, he added, 'are nothing more than a collection of personal beliefs that have nothing to do with science-based fire investigation.'

- Medical testimony on Willingham by doctors who had never met Willingham, like"James P. Grigson, a forensic psychiatrist," diagnosing Willingham as "extremely severe sociopath." Grigson in 1995, three years after Willingham’s trial "was expelled from the American Psychiatric Association for violating ethics. The association stated that Grigson had repeatedly arrived at a 'psychiatric diagnosis without first having examined the individuals in question, and for indicating, while testifying in court as an expert witness, that he could predict with 100-per-cent certainty that the individuals would engage in future violent acts.'"

An innocent man is killed. Good enough for Texas.

Please read David Grann's piece in the New Yorker on Cameron Todd Willingham.

Video: David Grann discusses the flaws of the Cameron Todd Willingham investigation.

See also:

- Questions About an Execution (NYT)

- Texas Executed An Innocent Man (an Innocence Project Media Advisory)

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