Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

October 24, 2012

Petition requests Willingham posthumous pardon

Corsicana — One of the relatives of Cameron Todd Willingham filed a petition Wednesday in Austin that Willingham be given a posthumous pardon by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Willingham was the Corsicana man convicted and executed for killing his three small children in a house fire in 1991. Since his execution he has become a poster-child for the Innocence Project, which wants to do away with the death penalty in Texas. The New York-based group claims the evidence doesn’t support Willingham’s conviction.

Corsicana fire and police detectives who investigated the death of the three little girls have repeatedly defended their handling of the case — and the 1992 conviction. Willingham was executed in 2004, after a dozen years of appeals.

Filing the petition is just the beginning of the process, according to Harry Battson, spokesman for the Board of Pardons and Paroles.

“We received the application today,” Battson confirmed, adding that it won’t be an overnight decision. “Our clemency people tell us the average is months, not weeks. We’re looking at a period of time before it comes to a vote.”

Before that, the investigators, and the children’s mother will all be asked to file a statement on whether or not Willingham’s name should be cleared.

“They will have an opportunity and time period to input their thoughts on the application,” Battson explained. After all the statements are compiled, then the file will be submitted to each of the board members one at a time.

“They don’t actually vote at a meeting,” Battson said. “They sequentially review the file. Each member reviews it then casts a vote, then it goes to the next board member.”

If a majority of the seven board members vote in favor of granting the posthumous pardon then it will be sent to the governor’s office. The governor doesn’t have to grant the pardon, regardless of how the board votes.

“The board makes a recommendation to the governor,” Battson said.

Prior to Willingham’s execution by lethal injection in 2004, his supporters asked Gov. Rick Perry for a stay which would have delayed the execution but it was refused. In 2009, when an arson expert who disagreed with the arson findings in the case was supposed to testify before the Texas Forensic Science Commission, the governor changed the make-up of the commission, putting a stop to the expert’s testimony. When Perry made his recent run to be the Republican nominee for president, Willingham’s case became nationally famous as an example of Perry’s conservatism.

In filing the petition, Willingham’s cousin and stepmother said it would have been Willingham’s wish to have his named cleared.

“It was Todd’s last wish that we help to clear his name.  We owe that to Todd and to all the other people who might have been convicted based on the same faulty evidence,” said Eugenia Willingham, Willingham’s stepmother.

Patricia Willingham Cox, Willingham’s cousin added, “We weren’t able to save Todd’s life, but thanks to the help of many of the nation’s renowned arson experts who reviewed the evidence in his case, we now know that Todd was wrongly convicted. It’s time for the state to own up to its mistake and give Todd the justice he deserves.”

A copy of the petition can be viewed on the Innocence Project’s website at www.innocenceproject.org/willingham.

—————

Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

 

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • 4-23-14 DerrickDays.jpg Derrick Days: Downtown Chowdown

    Derrick Days is ready to go, with events escalating everyday until the big Saturday celebration, with dozens of activities that day alone.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-14 TownHall.jpg Navarro College Town Hall shares updates

    Reaching out to the community, inviting the civic groups to the campus, and doing a better job of sharing the story of Navarro College were some of the ideas brought up at a college Town Hall event held Monday.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • CISD board hears facilities study results

    The long-awaited CISD facilities report from the Texas Association of School Boards was delivered, at least in a short form, Monday at the Corsicana board of trustees meeting.

    April 22, 2014

  • Train accident victim identified

    A 61-year-old Corsicana man was taken to Parkland Hospital Monday night after he was struck by a train as he tried to cross a railroad track on foot.

    April 22, 2014

  • Report: West plant explosion preventable

    The fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people last year in a tiny Texas town could have been prevented, even if it's still not clear what started an initial fire that triggered the blast, federal officials said Tuesday.

    April 22, 2014

  • Local Beat for 4/23/14

    A listing of meetings and events of interest from throughout Navarro County

    April 22, 2014

  • DPS urges online driver's license renewal

    Renewing a Texas driver's license doesn't necessarily mean waiting in long lines or prepping your best photo ID look for the camera. The Department of Public Safety on Tuesday urged residents to renew online and beat the typical summer rush at driver's license offices.

    April 22, 2014

  • Agency report on West blast to be released

    It has been a year since a fire caused a huge explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant that killed 15 people, yet companies in the state can still store hazardous chemicals in flammable wooden containers in buildings without sprinklers and volunteer firefighters like those who rushed into that plant still aren't required to train how to fight such fires.

    April 22, 2014

  • 4-22-14 Aldis.jpg ALDI gets set for May 1 opening

    The much anticipated opening of a new ALDI Grocery store in Corsicana is just two weeks away.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-22-14 Minithon main.jpg Oil Town Minithon kicks off Derrick Days celebration

    The 2014 Oil Town Minithon Saturday raised an estimated $6,000 for local charities as it served to kick off the annual Derrick Days celebration.

    April 21, 2014 3 Photos

AP Video
Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Justice Dept. Broadening Criteria for Clemency Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security
Twitter Updates