News 09.18.09

Texas Prosecutor Untroubled by Willingham Evidence

ABC News' "Nightline" focused on the wrongful execution of Cameron Todd Willingham last night, interviewing the original arson investigator and prosecutor, who both say they are comfortable with their role in the case despite clear new evidence that Willingham was innocent.

Willingham was convicted of setting a fire in his own house that killed his three daughters. An exhaustive report in the September 7 issue of the New Yorker deconstructs the evidence against Willingham, proving that the fire was an accident and the other evidence used against Willingham was false.

John Jackson, who was the prosecutor in the case and is now a senior judge, tells ABC News reporter Terry Moran that the unanimous findings of arson experts in recent years that the fire was an accident have cast strong doubt on the forensics used against Willingham at trial. He admits that "without question" the scientific evidence was not valid. Asked if this new evidence gives him pause about sending a man to death, however, Jackson says "not a man like Todd."

Jackson goes on to claim that because Willingham liked the band Iron Maiden, he was likely to be a devil worshipper. He also says it's likely that the fire burned in a pentagram pattern on the floor, further showing "an obsession with Satan" that he says makes it "more likely" that Willingham intentionally set the fire – even though there is no evidence that the fire was anything more than a tragic accident


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