Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

The Willingham Files

October 1, 2009

(10-01-09) Arson probe delayed

Perry replaces three members on forensic panel

By Janet Jacobs

Daily Sun

The meeting to review the case of Cameron Todd Willingham Friday has been canceled, following the dismissal of three members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission Wednesday by Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry did not return phone calls Wednesday, however, he told the Associated Press that the members’ terms had expired and replacing them “was pretty standard business as usual.” The commission was formed in 2005 to deal with forensic errors.

Four of the governor’s appointments expired on Sept. 1. Three of those, including the chairman, were told this week they would not be reappointed because the governor was going in a different direction.

John Bradley, district attorney for Williamson County, was named the new commission chairman, replacing Samuel Bassett, an Austin-area defense attorney.

Bradley said the appointment was a surprise, since he hadn’t really heard of the commission before. His first act was to cancel the Friday meeting, in order to give the new board members time to catch up.

“I felt those of us newly appointed to the board didn’t have sufficient time to prepare ourselves as to the role we have on the commission, and asked that the meeting be canceled until such time as we can figure out what we do,” Bradley said.

It was Perry who named Bradley as Williamson County district attorney in 2001.

The forensics commission was scheduled to review and discuss a report Friday from Craig Beyler, a fire expert from Baltimore, Md., who criticized the local and state fire investigations on the Willingham case as unscientific. Beyler submitted his findings Aug. 17.

Bassett received a phone call at 5 p.m. Tuesday informing him of the change, but it was not a complete shock, he said.

“It was a little bit of a surprise, but I knew they were seeking new appointments from the Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys Association,” Bassett said. “I asked if I should or should not attend Friday’s meeting and they said ‘probably not,’ so I assumed I was finished.”

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The Willingham Files
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  • (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.

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