Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

The Willingham Files

September 3, 2009

(09-03-09) GUEST COMMENTARY: No arson means no crime occurred

I am very puzzled by Mr. Jackson’s column on the Cameron Todd Willingham’s case and by the Daily Sun’s willingness to print it. The column does not try to contradict the findings of the Texas Forensic Science Commission — it can’t. Mr. Jackson is presenting the impossible case that even if Mr. Willingham could not have been convicted of arson — as there was no evidence to support the theory that the fire was set — he still should have been convicted of murder and executed. This claim is like trying to convict someone of murder by firearm when there is absolutely no evidence that he has ever held a gun in his life or ever tried to procure one.

But Mr. Jackson does not stop with the claim alone. He cites seven “facts” in support of the conviction. Unsurprisingly, none of the “facts” have any bearing on the case, even if Mr. Jackson reports them accurately. Mr. Jackson is using his status in the community and in the legal profession to protect a conviction that should not stand.

The first claim may be the strongest. If indeed Mr. Willingham had attempted to kill his children twice before the fire, it may go to establish a pattern. But such pattern is only valid if there is actual evidence that the children were murdered — no arson, no murder. To make matters worse, Mr. Jackson “supports” this claim with a reference to “attemp[ing] to abort both pregnancies”. He further buttresses it by pointing out, in claim (5), that Mr. Willingham was “a serial wife abuser” of “violent nature” and prone to “vicious attacks on animals.”

But in his attempt to paint a “violent sociopath,” Mr. Jackson arrives at a contradiction — if Mr. Willingham was impulsive and violent, murder by arson — which requires premeditation and careful planning — would have been quite uncharacteristic. Mr. Jackson was a prosecutor on the case, not an expert forensic psychologist. The conclusions of claims (1) and (5) are irrelevant and nonsensical.

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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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