Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

The Willingham Files

November 2, 2009

(10-27-09) Texas Forensic Science Commission questioned

City challenges commission’s look at arson case

By Janet Jacobs

Daily Sun

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.

The law allows the panel to examine cases still pending, or people in prison as of Sept. 1, 2005, but Willingham was tried in 1992, and executed in February 2004.

In creating the Commission, the law is meant to affect active cases of injustice, argues Terry Jacobson, Corsicana city attorney in a Oct. 7 letter to the Commission.

The evidence was gathered and entered into evidence 14 years before the bill became law, Jacobson points out. “The city is cooperating with the Forensic Science Commission,” Jacobson said, adding that the city would like to see the commission address the jurisdiction question.

The newly appointed head of the commission, John Bradley, Williamson County district attorney, declined to comment on whether or not his commission has the authority to look into the case.

Bradley was appointed to the commission Sept. 30, replacing then-chairman Sam Bassett. Unsure of his new assignment, Bradley canceled an impending meeting on the Willingham case.

“Given that the Willingham case is pending before the Commission, it would be inappropriate for me to comment,” Bradley said in an e-mail asking about the Commission’s jurisdiction.

Bradley is expected to speak out about the Willingham case on Nov. 10, during a special hearing of the Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

Chairman of the senate committee, John Whitmire, Houston Democrat, said he intends to ask Bradley if the Commission has enough money, and whether it intends to continue with the Willingham inquiry, Whitmire said.

And if not, then why not.

The creation of the commission back in 2005 was primarily a response to the problems with the Houston crime lab at the time, Whitmire explained.

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The Willingham Files
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