Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

The Willingham Files

September 4, 2009

(08-19-02) Capital murder trial gets underway Tuesday

Originally published Aug. 19, 1992

An arson investigator with the State Fire Marshall’s office Tuesday said the father of three young girls deliberately set the fire that killed the girls last December.

Testimony began Tuesday morning in the capital murder trial of 24-year-old Cameron Todd Willingham. Police and prosecutors allege Willingham set the fire that killed his 2-year-old daughter, Amber, and 1-year-old twins, Kamron and Kameron, on Dec. 23, 1991.

Arson investigator Manuel Vasquez testified late Tuesday afternoon the fire that killed the three girls was intentionally set in three different places at the wood frame house where Willingham has said he was asleep when he heard one of his daughters crying for him and woke to find the house ablaze.

Under objection by defense attorneys David Martin and Rob Dunn, Vasquez said it was his opinion that Willingham set the fires. Vasquez said he did not think any of the children could have set the blaze.

Additionally, a conversation Willingham had with Vasquez showed inconsistencies with minor injuries the father had sustained in the fire, Vasquez said.

Vasquez detailed on a chart for the eight-woman, four-man jury and with photographs of the burned house how and where the fires were started. Vasquez said portion of the floor were on fire, and had Willingham ran out of the house barefoot after being awakened, as he told authorities, his feet would have been burned, Vasquez testified.

“The fire is telling this,” Vasquez said. “The fire is telling the story. I’m just the interpreter…The fire does not lie, the fire tells the truth.”

Additionally, the amount of smoke created by the blaze would have caused Willingham to suffer from severe smoke inhalation had he tried to rescue his three daughters from the fire as he told police, Vasquez said.

Instead, Willingham showed no signs of smoke inhalation injuries – which Vasquez said would make one “want to puke your guts out” – following the fire, the arson investigator testified.

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The Willingham Files
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  • (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.

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    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.

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  • 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.

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