Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

The Willingham Files

October 3, 2009

(10-04-09) Perry responds to panel shakeup

By appointing a new slate of commissioners to the Texas Forensic Science Commission Wednesday Gov. Rick Perry wasn’t interfering with the commission, he was just doing “business as usual,” said a spokesman Friday.

Perry replaced two members, and still has a third to name to the board that deals with errors in forensics investigations. The changes came two days before the commission was to undertake its first case, which is that of Cameron Todd Willingham, tried and convicted 17 years ago for murdering his three children in a house fire. Willingham was executed five years ago, but anti-death-penalty advocates have taken up his cause, claiming Texas killed an innocent man and calling for the end to the ultimate punishment.

The board had contracted with Craig Beyler, an arson specialist from Baltimore to review the case, and on Aug. 17 he issued a very critical report saying that the investigation was poorly done. Questioning Beyler was the first significant item on the commission’s agenda for Friday, but the meeting was canceled when the board members were replaced.

The three commissioners’ two-year terms had expired on Sept. 1, and although the governor originally appointed the three members, and reappointed them two years ago, Perry chose not to return them to the board.

“It’s a routine matter,” said Chris Cutrone, deputy press secretary to the governor. “We don’t always just reappoint people. The governor has to make thousands of appointments every year, and some people get reappointed and some don’t. It’s just business as usual.”

Cutrone said the issue wasn’t related to the Willingham case, but added that the governor has confidence in the fire marshal’s original investigation.

“Governor Perry has reviewed the totality of the facts of the case, and has stood by the conclusions reached by the courts and the Texas Supreme Court that Mr. Willingham was guilty and no further review was necessary,” Cutrone said. “To suggest the arson testimony was the only evidence presented to the jury is grossly inaccurate. The jury also heard testimony of inaccuracies in Willingham’s statements.”

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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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