News 01.27.09

Texas Hires Expert to Investigate Arson Conviction

Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004 in Texas for allegedly setting a fire that killed his three young daughters. He claimed to be innocent throughout, saying just seconds before being executed: “I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit.”

An independent blue-ribbon panel of arson experts found in 2006 that the fire in Willingham’s case was not arson and noted substantial problems with the methods used in investigating the crime. Following the panel’s report, the Innocence Project submitted the case to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, requesting a thorough review. As a result of that request, Texas has hired Maryland arson expert Craig Beyler to review the case. He will determine if the arson finding can be substantiated and whether analysts at the time of Willingham’s trial should have known that the fire was not arson.

"It's essential that this matter is resolved for the sake of those who have been wrongly convicted by unreliable arson evidence, as well as those under investigation in new arson cases," said (Barry) Scheck, the Innocence Project's co-director.


Read the full story here

. (01/25/09, Chicago Tribune)

 


Read more about the Willingham case here

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Download the blue-ribbon panel’s report

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