The former chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission has told CNN that Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas officials worked to “squash” the state panel’s investigation of arson evidence used to convict Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004.
In February 2009, Sam Bassett got called to Gov. Rick Perry’s office.
Bassett was then chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, an agency set up in 2005 to regulate state crime labs after a series of embarrassing scandals. The first matter on its plate involved the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, whose murder conviction rested largely on testimony that many arson experts now call outdated and incorrect.
“As soon as we started discussing the Willingham investigation, the meeting got more confrontational and more difficult,” Bassett said.
As we posted earlier, the Texas Forensic Science commission is meeting today and tomorrow, and will discuss a recent opinion by the state Attorney General prohibiting the commission from investigating “specific items of evidence that were tested or offered into evidence prior to” September 1, 2005.
Watch the commission meeting here