There’s some really disturbing news coming out of the Innocence Project today. A new report done by the organization shows that Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas in 2004 was actually innocent. Willingham was convicted of arson murder which killed his three young children back in 1992. At Willingham’s trial, forensic experts testified that evidence showed the fire was intentionally set. To his death, Willingham insisted upon his innocence in the deaths of his children and refused to plead guilty in return or a life sentence.
Two and a half years ago, in May 2006, the Innocence Project formally submitted the Willingham case to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, along with information about another arson case and a request that the panel order a review of arson convictions across the state. In the other arson case, Ernest Willis was convicted of an unrelated arson murder and sentenced to death in 1987, and he served 17 years in prison before he was exonerated. In 2007, the Texas Forensic Science Commission announced that it had accepted the Innocence Project’s complaint and would launch an investigation.
To read the full article in the September 7th issue of The New Yorker (which deconstructs every facet of the case, finding that none of the evidence against Willingham was valid) click here:
What I find so disturbing about this case is two-fold. First simply that this could happen. And secondly, that it’s probably not the only time in which it has happened. Ongoing support for criminal justice reform is crucial. And it’s crucial now. The Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck asked the crucial question, “How can we stop it from happening again?”