Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

The Willingham Files

December 2, 2009

(12-02-09) Jurors defend verdict that led to Texas execution

JEFF CARLTON

Associated Press Writer



CORSICANA — 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.



The veteran defense attorney represented Willingham at trial. He looked at all the evidence. And he has no doubt that his client deserved to die.



"I never think about him, but I do think about those year-old babies crawling around in an inferno with their flesh melting off their bodies," Martin said. "I think that he was guilty, that he deserved death and that he got death."



The 2004 execution, however, didn't end questions about the case. Fire investigator experts hired first by The Innocence Project and later by the Texas Forensic Science Commission concluded the original finding of arson was seriously flawed.



Without that finding, prosecutors have admitted it would have been hard to win a death sentence against Willingham.



But the reports have done nothing to change the minds of Martin and four jurors reached by The Associated Press in recent weeks, who all remain convinced Willingham set the blaze 18 years ago that killed 2-year-old Amber and 1-year-old twins Karmon and Kameron. They never heard from Willingham, who declined to take the stand in his own defense.



Prosecutors, meanwhile, called 17 witnesses, including the only experts to testify — both fire investigators who told jurors arson was to blame.



"All you can go on when you are on a jury is what is put before you," said one juror, Dorenda Dechaume, 39. "I stand by my vote — guilty."



At trial, the expert testimony was definitive. The county's assistant fire chief, Doug Fogg, testified that he found pour patterns and puddling on the floor, signs that someone had poured a liquid accelerant throughout the Willingham's home. Manuel Vasquez, the state fire marshal whose credentials as a 30-year veteran firefighter and investigator were established on the stand, was unequivocal in his condemnation of Willingham, saying the defendant "told me a story of pure fabrication."

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The Willingham Files
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    October 29, 2011

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    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

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    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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  • 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.

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