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Cameron Todd Willingham, and the Texas Forensic Science Commission

Posted By on October 5, 2009

What’s worse than watching your children die in a fire?

How about being falsely accused, convicted, and executed for killing them?

According to the New Yorker, that’s what happened to Cameron Todd Willingham.

In 1991 his three girls were killed in a pre-Christmas fire.  In 1992 he was convicted of killing them, and in 2004 he was executed.  Cameron’s execution was obtained, in large part, on the basis of expert testimony of a fire marshal, who testified that the fire was arson.  He identified “20 indicators” that the fire was deliberately set, and testified that Cameron was the one who set it.

That testimony went unchallenged until 2004, when, just before the execution, a nationally known expert reviewed the fire marshal’s work.  Of the twenty indicators, he found that all of them were invalid.  The execution that was about to be performed, he wrote, was based on “junk science.”

Since then, other experts have been hired or commissioned to review the marshal’s work.  All of them concur: the fire marshal’s testimony was baseless.  His conclusions, wrote Craig Beyler, commissioned by the Texas Forensic Science Commission, were based on “discredited folklore,” and his approach was “characteristic of mystics or psychics.”

So what is Texas’ response?

Last week Governor Perry booted the head of the Texas Forensic Science Commission – which had been set to hold hearings on the forensics in the Cameron case – and replaced him with the (Republican) chief prosecutor for Williamson County, John Bradley.  (Most recently known for prosecuting people for appealing their cases.)

His first act?  To cancel the hearings, indefinitely.

You can’t make this shit up.

Cameron Willingham, with daughter Amber.

Cameron Willingham, with daughter Amber.


Comments

One Response to “Cameron Todd Willingham, and the Texas Forensic Science Commission”

  1. Unbelievable. There’s a hot place in hell (no pun intended here) for Rick Perry and his ilk.

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