By Janet Jacobs
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.”
Perry replaces three members on forensic panel
By Janet Jacobs
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- (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.
(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.
- (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
- (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.
- (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.
- (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.
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.
- More The Willingham Files Headlines
- Science panel suggests review of arson convictions