News 09.13.10

TX Forensics Panel Will Meet Friday to Discuss Willingham Case

The Texas Forensic Science Commission will convene Friday in Dllas for a special meeting about its investigation into the validity of science used to convict Cameron Todd Willingham of arson in 1991.

Yesterday,

Rick Casey wrote in the Houston Chronicle

that the Commission was on track with their investigation until Gov. Rick Perry suddenly replaced the chairman Sam Bassett with John Bradley a year ago.

The commission had dealt with the matter entirely in the open, going through a process to select one of the nation’s most respected arson specialists, Craig Beyler of Baltimore, to assess the Willingham arson investigations and courtroom testimony by Corsicana police and the state’s Fire Marshal.

Beyler issued a very critical report that found that the investigations met neither the science standards at the time nor national standards put in place since.

A number of other respected arson experts have reached the same conclusion.

The commission was scheduled to question Beyler on his report at a meeting days after Bradley was appointed and then planned to hear from Corsicana officials and the state Fire Marshal’s Office. But Bradley cancelled the meeting then persuaded the commission to assign the matter to a committee, which he chairs.

The committee has since met twice in secret and in tentative findings said that the arson investigators results

were flawed based on erroneous national standards of the time. The state Fire Marshal’s Office and Corsicana officials filed responses very critical of Beyler’s report, but as per Beyler, those responses were never shared with him and he wasn’t asked to respond.

Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck said the state Fire Marshal’s response was a misleading document that raises more questions than it answers.

Casey suggests the Bradley is dominating the actions of the Commission as opposed allowing the seven scientists and forensic practitioners on the commission to have a voice. He said that along with the scientists, the defense attorney and prosecutor on the Commission need to rebel against Bradley to ensure the commission fulfills its role to promote justice by enforcing scientific standards.

Friday’s TFSC meeting will be streamed live online

here

. View the meeting

agenda

.



Visit our Willingham resource page for more on the case and the Texas Forensic Science Commission

.

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