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Mon Mar 10, 2014, 12:54 PM

 

More evidence an innocent man was executed

For those of you not up on the details of Cameron Todd Willingham, please go here:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/07/090907fa_fact_grann

Short and sweet: A man was executed for committing arson that killed his children. He refused to plead guilty and was convicted based upon the testimony of "expert" arson investigators who turned out to have expertise based more on folklore than science.

As is usually the case, there was also a jailhouse snitch, who the prosecution INSISTED did not get a deal for his testimony. The evidence that this was a lie has now been revealed:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/us/evidence-of-concealed-jailhouse-deal-raises-questions-about-a-texas-execution.html?_r=2

In the 10 years since Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham after convicting him on charges of setting his house on fire and murdering his three young daughters, family members and death penalty opponents have argued that he was innocent. Now newly discovered evidence suggests that the prosecutor in the case may have concealed a deal with a jailhouse informant whose testimony was a key part of the execution decision.

... the biggest open question has been whether Judge Jackson and Mr. Webb had made a deal. Judge Jackson, who has retired from the bench, continued to insist there was no deal, even in an interview last year.

As he worked through the stack of papers, he saw a note scrawled on the inside of the district attorney’s file folder stating that Mr. Webb’s charges were to be listed as robbery in the second degree, not the heavier first-degree robbery charge he had originally been convicted on, “based on coop in Willingham.”

Judge Jackson did not respond to several requests for comment.

How sure are we that the science being used in Texas was "flawed"?

Over the past five years, the Willingham case has been reviewed by nine of the nation's top fire scientists -- first for the Tribune, then for the Innocence Project, and now for the commission. All concluded that the original investigators relied on outdated theories and folklore to justify the determination of arson.


http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-08-25/news/0908240429_1_cameron-todd-willingham-texas-forensic-science-commission-willingham-case

This once again brings homes the point that despite claims to the contrary INNOCENT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN EXECUTED IN THIS COUNTRY!

If people are going to insist that the need for vengeance outweighs the need for justice, then they must answer the question: How many innocent people is it OK to murder in order to satisfy the state's demand for vengeance?

Also, if we are going to have a death penalty, them we need to expand its use to include:

1) Police, prosecutors and judges whose misconduct causes the death of an innocent person.

2) Public corruption, since the abuse of power for self-enrichment should be viewed as treason.

3) Massive theft, fraud or environmental damage caused by the management of corporations since it damages the health and well being of society.

A special "fast track" due process shall be invoked if any person so charged with any of these crimes has expressed support at any time for the curtailment of the appeals process, or other safeguards against wrongful execution.

Yeah, yeah, I know, not going to happen (and shouldn't), but I am sick of these people's cavalier attitude toward other people's lives. But it would be interesting to have an "adaptive" legal system in which you are judged according to the standards you judge other people.

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Arrow 47 replies Author Time Post
Reply More evidence an innocent man was executed (Original post)
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 OP
closeupready Mar 2014 #1
morningfog Mar 2014 #3
nadinbrzezinski Mar 2014 #5
morningfog Mar 2014 #6
nadinbrzezinski Mar 2014 #8
closeupready Mar 2014 #7
nadinbrzezinski Mar 2014 #9
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #26
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #24
freebrew Mar 2014 #44
Scuba Mar 2014 #2
Cirque du So-What Mar 2014 #10
nadinbrzezinski Mar 2014 #4
mindwalker_i Mar 2014 #11
closeupready Mar 2014 #13
Archae Mar 2014 #14
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #28
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #22
mindwalker_i Mar 2014 #31
jsr Mar 2014 #12
Wolf Frankula Mar 2014 #15
marble falls Mar 2014 #16
1StrongBlackMan Mar 2014 #17
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #21
surrealAmerican Mar 2014 #42
1StrongBlackMan Mar 2014 #47
gollygee Mar 2014 #18
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #20
Iggo Mar 2014 #32
airplaneman Mar 2014 #36
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #38
The Wizard Mar 2014 #19
Fortinbras Armstrong Mar 2014 #23
Fantastic Anarchist Mar 2014 #25
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #27
sabrina 1 Mar 2014 #29
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #30
KansDem Mar 2014 #37
Renew Deal Mar 2014 #33
Renew Deal Mar 2014 #34
polmaven Mar 2014 #35
davidn3600 Mar 2014 #39
yodermon Mar 2014 #40
mwooldri Mar 2014 #41
Kelvin Mace Mar 2014 #43
Sarah Ibarruri Mar 2014 #45
RedCappedBandit Mar 2014 #46

Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:00 PM

1. I hope to see a day when the Supreme Court rules it unconstitutional

 

to put any prisoner to death. K&R

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Response to closeupready (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:10 PM

3. Barring some unfortunate event, I believe you will.

 

Here's to your health! And my prediction that the SCOTUS will bar the death penalty within 5 years.

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Response to morningfog (Reply #3)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:14 PM

5. What makes you say that?

 

I am genuinely interested given the make up of the Roberts court.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:19 PM

6. Recent precedent.

 

We have been steadily moving in that direction. No death penalty for mentally retarded (the courts use that word), no death penalty for non-homicide crimes, no death penalty for any crime committed as a minor. Recently, no automatic life without parole for crimes committed as a minor.

The overwhelming trend in the world and in states is to ban DP. It will happen, and in short time. It is cruel and becoming increasingly unusual.

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Response to morningfog (Reply #6)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:24 PM

8. True, but the Stevens courts

 

I hope you are right, because it is cruel and unusual. Perhaps I am so jaded I believe nothing good can emerge from DC (including the SCOTUS) these days.

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Response to nadinbrzezinski (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:21 PM

7. Not answering for him, but what I know is even retired judge O'Connor

 

affirmed the idea that logically, if even a single case of an executed innocent person could be found, then that would invalidate the basis for believing that there are sufficient numbers of safeguards in capital punishment cases so as to render impossible the execution of wrongly convicted prisoners.

In Scalia's comment quoted above, he seems to be also affirming that idea.

Willingham's case could very well be the one that puts an end to capital punishment, for this reason.

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Response to closeupready (Reply #7)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:25 PM

9. Another retired justice

 

Would love to put it in as an Amendment. Both are retired though. As I said above, I am way too jaded. I admit it.

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Response to closeupready (Reply #7)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:57 PM

26. But the powers that be are refusing

 

to exonerate Willingham because they know if they do it is the end of their bloodthirsty joy ride.

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Response to closeupready (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:54 PM

24. Not likely anytime soon

 

Scalia has stated he has NEVER seen evidence of an innocent being executed. But then, he doesn't look very hard. When you add to that the fact that the Court ruled in 1992 that actual innocence wasn't really a reason to overturn an execution, you can see how steep the hill is for the accused.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #24)

Tue Mar 11, 2014, 12:23 PM

44. Just announced today:

Ryan Ferguson, recently released from prison in Missouri(another death state) is suing judges, prosecutors, investigators, et. al. for $100M. The prosecution withheld information, the investigators pressured witnesses to testify against this young man who spent 10 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

All these f**kers need to be in jail. Kangaroo courts were famous years ago. The M$M has been obliged to cover all this up as these types of courts are alive and well here in the usa. Much like the article about Auto-Zone yesterday, there is no justice in this country unless you're rich(and republican). And if you're rich and republican, someone must pay, just not you.

I think the revolution WILL be televised.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:01 PM

2. Sickening. No civilized society should allow the death penalty. Very few do.

 

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Response to Scuba (Reply #2)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:26 PM

10. None do

No civilized society *does* allow capital punishment. If the shoe fits...

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:13 PM

4. The only bright light in this

 

Is that his death might bring to an end a barbaric practice that we should abandon post haste.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:35 PM

11. Texas is more of a faith-based society anyway

They had faith that the guy set the fire, they "science" was just put there to add the word "science" to their investigation, but wasn't meant to be taken seriously.

Besides, they had a reputation to uphold as being tough on crime, or something.

And I'm sure he was guilty of SOMETHING.

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Response to mindwalker_i (Reply #11)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:38 PM

13. "And I'm sure he was guilty of SOMETHING." Yep, heard that one

 

in defense of his execution.

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Response to mindwalker_i (Reply #11)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:39 PM

14. According to the PBS "Frontline" that looked at this...

He wasn't exactly a model citizen.

He beat up his wife, had other convictions on his record.

What he did *NOT* do is set that fire.

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Response to Archae (Reply #14)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 03:00 PM

28. That's the problem

 

People can shrug and say, "well, he deserved to die anyway."

And since it is not their life, or the lives of anyone they care about, they can even sleep nights.

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Response to mindwalker_i (Reply #11)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:51 PM

22. Yep,

 

everybody is guilty of something if we just look hard enough.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #22)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 03:07 PM

31. If we're going to kill people in Afghanistan

with drones, including, say, attendees of weddings who are likely not terrorists, does it make moral sense to say that here, we worry about killing innocent people? It kind of says we care about us, but people from other countries don't matter, which seems kind of similar to racism.

I'm not advocating allowing this system to continue, but rather arguing that it it thoroughly screwed up and needs at least some fixing.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:36 PM

12. Recommend

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:47 PM

15. I have been saying for years

If a person shall have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, and executed, and the reason for conviction shall have been misconduct by police, prosecutors, expert witnesses or judges, then upon conviction, the misconductor shall be put to death in a like manner.

Wolf

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 01:57 PM

16. The death penalty will never ever be error free. End it.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:29 PM

17. I will say again ...

 

most, if not all, of these shenanigans would stop with a simple piece of legislation, wherein: "Any officer of the court or member of law enforcement convicted of judicial, prosecutorial or law enforcement misconduct that resulted in prejudice against a defendant SHALL be sentenced to serve the sentence of that Defendant received, or would have received had the Defendant been convicted."

It could be called: the "In The Wronged Defendants Shoes Act."

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Response to 1StrongBlackMan (Reply #17)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:50 PM

21. I could get behind that.

 

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Response to 1StrongBlackMan (Reply #17)

Tue Mar 11, 2014, 11:35 AM

42. ... but what if it's not "misconduct"?

What if they're just incompetent and wrong? I don't doubt that the arson investigators in this case "believed" it was arson, but they were unaware that their findings were based on essentially unproven folklore, rather than scientific data. The executed man is just as dead in either case.

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Response to surrealAmerican (Reply #42)

Tue Mar 11, 2014, 01:46 PM

47. Incompetency can rise to a level of misconduct ...

 

being "wrong" is another matter.

I oppose the DP because forensics is more an inexact art than a science (despite what they call it).

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:42 PM

18. Prosecutors are elected officials

and many run on the platform of being TOUGH ON CRIME and feel huge pressure to get people to trial and get them convicted. The pressure is for convictions rather than justice.

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Response to gollygee (Reply #18)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:49 PM

20. Agreed. Prosecutors have too much power

 

in that they are the ones who cut please bargains.

Please bargaining should be eliminated since it gives prosecutors leverage to extort guilty please from the innocent.

That, and we should eliminate "elected" prosecutors.

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Response to gollygee (Reply #18)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 03:08 PM

32. They'll kill to stay in office.

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Response to gollygee (Reply #18)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 04:05 PM

36. yes but I would add

A prosecutor has no interest in helping the innocent. If the prosecutor knows without a doubt you are innocent he will to the best of his ability convict you anyhow as his reputation depends on convictions. How can there be justice if the prosecution wants you nailed no matter what you really did. Vengeance happens by default unless the jury (another wild card) find you innocent.
-Airplane

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Response to airplaneman (Reply #36)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 06:13 PM

38. Precisely!

 

Prosecutors are all about the convictions, which is why they plea bargain all the time. And woe upon the defendant who DARES proclaim innocence and refuse the "generous" plea bargain, forcing the prosecutor to actually build a case. If he in convicted, the maximum penalty is applied.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:47 PM

19. It's called Texecution for good cause

Remember the wild cheering for Rick Perry when he said he presided over a record number of executions. Texas, where the men are men and the sheep are nervous.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:52 PM

23. The former governor of Illinois, George Ryan put a moratorium on the death penalty

In Illinois in 1999, after 14 men on death row were found to be innocent. He said, "I still believe the death penalty is a proper response to heinous crimes... But I believe that it has to be where we don't put innocent people to death."

Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae -- "The Gospel of Life". After a discussion of self defense, he says

This is the context in which to place the problem of the death penalty. On this matter there is a growing tendency, both in the Church and in civil society, to demand that it be applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely. The problem must be viewed in the context of a system of penal justice ever more in line with human dignity and thus, in the end, with God's plan for man and society. The primary purpose of the punishment which society inflicts is "to redress the disorder caused by the offence." Public authority must redress the violation of personal and social rights by imposing on the offender an adequate punishment for the crime, as a condition for the offender to regain the exercise of his or her freedom. In this way authority also fulfills the purpose of defending public order and ensuring people's safety, while at the same time offering the offender an incentive and help to change his or her behaviour and be rehabilitated.

It is clear that, for these purposes to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare, if not practically non-existent.

In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: 'If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.'


To sum this up, capital punishment is not intrinsically immoral, but there are essentially no situations in which it is morally acceptable.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:57 PM

25. The Prosecutors should be charged with murder if they lied about the jailhouse deal. nt

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Response to Fantastic Anarchist (Reply #25)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 02:58 PM

27. Technically, in some states they can be

 

but I have yet to see a case where that law was enforced.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 03:02 PM

29. I remember that case and airc there was enough evidence even back then to stop that

execution, and maybe I'm confusing it with another, didn't it go to the SC where Scalia refused to stop it stating that once there is a conviction, that is enough, or words to that effect.

It's outrageous that we still engage in that barbaric practice.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #29)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 03:04 PM

30. Rick Perry said the execution didn't bother him in the slighest

 

since the guy was obviously guilty.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #30)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 04:22 PM

37. Which makes this video all the more sickening...

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 03:36 PM

33. Here's a video posted on DU in 2011

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 03:37 PM

34. This was covered by Frontline a few years ago

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 03:58 PM

35. In my opinion

Capital Punishment is nothing less than state sponsored murder, done in the name of the people! I have never approved of it under any circumstances, and never will. Please note my signature line!

This is one of the reasons I am so fiercely opposed to it. An innocent man murdered by the government!

Grrrrrrrrrr!

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Mon Mar 10, 2014, 06:20 PM

39. A good quote by John Adams...

 

"It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever."

-John Adams

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Tue Mar 11, 2014, 10:48 AM

40. If prosecutors/judges etc can be shown to have knowingly executed an innocent man

how is that not 1st degree murder?

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Tue Mar 11, 2014, 10:55 AM

41. I just don't understand.

Why would a civilized country still have the death penalty?

Also, being Texas, I'm sure that there is a vocal "pro life" movement (abortion).... are these same people pro death (penalty)?

If there isn't a death penalty, the worst case scenario is the wrongful imprisonment of an innocent person who died behind bars awaiting justice. Once a person is killed for a crime they didn't commit, they cannot be brought back to life. If after 10 years the person is acquitted and they weren't killed... and are still alive... amends can be made - or at least attempted. Reparations to the next of kin IMO aren't as meaningful as reparations to the innocent prisoner.

Bottom line: the death penalty is outdated, barbaric, and as bad as the original crime. It must be abolished.

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Response to mwooldri (Reply #41)

Tue Mar 11, 2014, 12:10 PM

43. You make my point with eloquence

 

I am always amused by "pro-lifers" who defend fetuses until they are born, then they are fair game.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Tue Mar 11, 2014, 12:34 PM

45. I'm against the death penalty, but too many in this country are not

It's possible this man was a psychopath, sadistic, or whatever it is he was, but not necessarily was he automatically responsible for the fire that killed his kids. The system is quite a mess, and the death penalty is making it worse.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Original post)

Tue Mar 11, 2014, 01:40 PM

46. This is the inevitable result of the death penalty.

Support the death penalty and you bear responsibility.

I've stated this before and been "ignored" because of it, but this is the damn truth.

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