Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

The Willingham Files

September 3, 2009

(09-02-09) GUEST COMMENTARY: Time to face truth in Willingham case

Judge John Jackson, who prosecuted Cameron Todd Willingham in the 1990s, recently wrote in the Corsicana Daily Sun that “facts” showing “overwhelming evidence” of Willingham’s guilt are being ignored. The truth is that all of the evidence that Jackson and his colleagues used to convict Willingham has been disproven. In the five years since Willingham was executed, several investigations – including an exhaustive report in the New Yorker this week — deconstruct all of the evidence and show that he was innocent.

Jackson himself now admits that the forensic case supporting the arson theory is “undeniably flawed” but he clings to the idea that Willingham was guilty, focusing on seven other points and shading each of them to conceal the truth:

1. Jackson claims Willingham beat his wife when she was pregnant in an attempt to end her pregnancies. In fact, Willingham’s wife has denied this and also told investigators he would never hurt his children.

2. Jackson claims Willingham’s burns were so minor that they must have been self-inflicted to fake evidence of trying to save his family. In fact, scientific experts have conducted experiments with identical fires and Willingham’s burns are normal for this type of fire.

3. Jackson claims medical tests show Willingham didn’t inhale smoke and thus didn’t try to rescue his family. In fact, Willingham tried desperately to go back into the house but firefighters physically restrained him.

4. Jackson claims Willingham refused to take a polygraph examination. This is true, but it is by no means evidence of guilt. Defense attorneys routinely advise their clients not to take polygraphs because they have proven unreliable (which is why they are not admissible in court).

5. Jackson likens Willingham to “violent sociopaths.” In fact, a prosecution expert who testified that Willingham was a “sociopath” was expelled from his professional association just three years later for unethical behavior, including making diagnoses without examining people. Willingham’s former probation officer and a judge both directly refute any notion that he was a sociopath.

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The Willingham Files
  • Science panel suggests review of arson convictions

    A Texas commission no longer allowed to investigate a case where death penalty opponents say a man may have been executed based on a faulty arson investigation recommended Friday that all cases involving people locked up on arson convictions be reviewed.

    October 29, 2011

  • 9-30 DA Award.jpg Thompson honored for Willingham work

    Lowell Thompson, Navarro County District Attorney, was honored by his peers at the Texas District and County Attorneys Association conference last week in Corpus Christi with the Lone Star Award for his work on the Willingham case.

    September 29, 2011 1 Photo

  • Willingham not on science panel agenda DALLAS (AP) — A state science panel looking into a possible wrongful conviction in a Texas death penalty case is meeting for the first time since Gov. Rick Perry removed several members, but the execution case is not on the agenda.

    January 21, 2010

  • (12-14-09) Tarrant County medical examiner appointed to forensic commission Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Tarrant County's medical examiner to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, a group shaken up this fall when Perry replaced several members.

    December 14, 2009

  • images_sizedimage_336091456 (12-02-09) Jurors defend verdict that led to Texas execution David Martin is sickened by the suggestion that Texas executed an innocent man when Cameron Todd Willingham was put to death for setting a fire that killed his three children.

    December 2, 2009 1 Photo

  • (11-10-09) Forensic panel chair offers plans The Texas Forensic Science Commission is not going to debate the death penalty or decide the guilt or innocence of individual cases, said John Bradley

    November 10, 2009

  • (11-08-09) GUEST COMMENTARY: A work in progress I am John Bradley, the elected District Attorney in Williamson County and the new presiding officer of the nine-member Texas Forensic Science Commission. I am writing to introduce myself, explain the purpose of the Commission and inform you about the work the Commission now faces.

    November 9, 2009

  • (10-27-09) Texas Forensic Science Commission questioned The City of Corsicana is questioning the Texas Forensic Science Commission’s ability to look at the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, since it happened 14 years before the commission was created.

    November 2, 2009

  • (10-26-09) Report: Willingham's former wife, 'He confessed' In a story on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's online newspaper today, Stacey Kykendall, the former wife of executed Cameron Todd Willingham, says he confessed to her before his execution.

    October 27, 2009

  • Death penalty opponents rally at Texas Capitol AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Death penalty opponents, convinced an innocent man was executed in 2004, staged a rally Saturday at the Texas Capitol to call for a moratorium on capital punishment and to highlight the controversial case of Cameron Todd Willingham.

    October 24, 2009

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