“Death by Fire” : At the center of the national death penalty debate today is the controversial case of Cameron Todd Willingham, put to death for the arson-murder of his three little girls. But was he guilty?

Death by Fire

At the center of the national death penalty debate today is the controversial case of Cameron Todd Willingham, put to death for the arson-murder of his three little girls. But was he guilty?

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Introduction »

 

Introduction

October 19, 2010

mugshots of willingham

Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Several controversial death penalty cases are currently under examination in Texas and in other states, but it’s the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham — convicted for the arson deaths of his three young children — that’s now at the center of the national debate.

In Death by Fire, FRONTLINE gains unique access to those closest to the Willingham case — meticulously examining the evidence used to convict Willingham, offering an in-depth portrait of those most impacted by the case, and exploring the explosive implications of the execution of a possibly innocent man.

“The state of Texas executed a man for a crime that they couldn’t prove was really a crime,” nationally renowned fire scientist John Lentini tells FRONTLINE.

The re-examination of the case turns on a critical finding that came only weeks before Willingham’s scheduled execution: The investigators who determined that Willingham had set the fire that killed his three daughters had relied on an outdated understanding of arson evidence. “Todd Willingham’s case falls into that category where there is not one iota of evidence that the fire was arson,” forensic scientist Gerald Hurst tells FRONTLINE of the results of his review of the evidence. “Fundamentally, this was a classic accidental fire.”

…read more: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/death-by-fire/

Death by Fire tells the story a writer named Elizabeth Gilbert who first began to question Willingham’s conviction and to draw attention to the possible miscarriage of justice after corresponding with Willingham as part of a prison pen pal program. As Gilbert dug into Willingham’s case, she found problems with the alleged jailhouse confession and the evidence that Willingham was a sociopath or Satanist. In fact, the satanic images prosecutors had introduced at trial were posters for the rock bands Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin. “They never established a motive,” Gilbert tells FRONTLINE. “So then their motive shifted to Todd just being an evil person.”

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/death-by-fire/

JUST GOT A COMMENT:

(a) “Family’s Effort to Clear Name Frames Debate on Executions”, John Schwartz, New York Times,  October 14, 2010,
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/us/15execution.html?_r=1

(b)  The Innocence Project Invents False Confessions
http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-innocence-project-invents-false.html

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4 responses to ““Death by Fire” : At the center of the national death penalty debate today is the controversial case of Cameron Todd Willingham, put to death for the arson-murder of his three little girls. But was he guilty?

  1. Fact checking will change your thoughts.

    “Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown”, A Collection of Articles
    http://homicidesurvivors.candothathosting.com/?s=willingham&submit=Search

    The state of the forensics in the Cameron Todd Willingham case is this:

    1) Of all of the forensics reports, that I have read, which find fault with the arson findings, none exclude arson. They conclude that the fire could be either arson or an accident.

    2) Other reports continue to find for arson.

    Other, non fire forensic, evidence against Todd Willingham not only continues to find for guilt but there is, now, more and stronger evidence against him.

    Expert witnesses:

    We have all seen where there are equally qualified experts in a trial that have opinions that are complete opposites. In some cases, there can be credible disagreement. In others, we respond with a deserved cynicism,

    With the Willingham fire, no credible person has denied that the fire could be arson.

    Dr. Hurst demurred. “I never had a case where I could exclude arson,” he said. “It’s not possible to do that.”(a)

    Sadly, but in character (b), Barry Scheck and the Innocent Project have stated, flatly, that it wasn’t arson and that Willingham was an innocent executed (c) All that Scheck and the IP are doing is injuring the credibility of forensic science. Evidently, for them, the find their agenda worth it. Former Texas Governor Mark White, now an anti death penalty activist, appears headed down this path, as well.

    (a) “Family’s Effort to Clear Name Frames Debate on Executions”, John Schwartz, New York Times, October 14, 2010,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/us/15execution.html?_r=1

    (b) The Innocence Project Invents False Confessions
    http://prodpinnc.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-innocence-project-invents-false.html

    • Thank You for Your precious comment; could You imagine to report it -openly- in this blog?
      I don´t want to blog incorrect or even false informations; You could help to clear this casus.
      Thank You

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