Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

The Willingham Files

September 7, 2009

(09-06-09) No doubts

Those closest to case shed no tears for Willingham

The undeniable facts of the Cameron Todd Willingham case are these:

• On Dec. 23, 1991, 2-year-old Amber Louise Kuykendall, and 1-year-old twins Karmon Diane Willingham and Kameron Marie Willingham died in a mid-morning house fire at 1213 W. 11th Ave. in Corsicana.

• Willingham, 23, the children’s father, and the only adult home at the time of the fire, was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death on Aug. 21, 1992.

• After five appeals and 12 years on death row, he was put to death by lethal injection on Feb. 17, 2004.

Everything else is controversial.



Carrying the torch

To people opposed to the death penalty under any circumstances, the holy grail is an innocent man who was executed, preferably in Texas, home of the nation’s busiest death row. Some argue Todd Willingham is that innocent man.

The latest argument for Willingham’s innocence comes from a report by Craig Beyler, of Hughes Associates in Baltimore, Md., and submitted Aug. 17 to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, a panel formed in 2005 to deal with forensic errors.

Beyler was contracted to review the case following a complaint by the Innocence Project. The Innocence Project is best known for using DNA analysis to exonerate wrongly convicted men.

The report claims the Texas investigators didn’t understand fire science, and didn’t use modern methods in the Willingham case. Because one of the investigators was with the Texas fire marshal’s office, the marshal’s office will have a chance to respond to Beyler’s findings, and the commission should deliver a verdict next spring.

This week, the New Yorker published an article by David Grann which condemns the science and the system which sent a seemingly innocent man to his death. Part of the article is based on Willingham’s relationship with a woman who visited him on death row, and became an amateur sleuth on his behalf. Previous articles questioning the Willingham verdict have also appeared in the Dallas Morning News and the Chicago Tribune.

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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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