Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

Texas executes Timothy Wayne Adams

Timothy Wayne Adams
HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Texas has executed a 42-year-old Houston man for the fatal 2002 shooting of his 19-month old son after an hours-long standoff with police.

Timothy Wayne Adams received a lethal injection Tuesday evening for the death of son Timothy Jr. He shot the child shot twice at close range after the standoff with a police tactical squad at his family's apartment.

Adams' execution took place moments after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a final appeal from his attorneys.

Prosecutors said the slaying was intended as retaliation against his wife for leaving him. Defense attorneys argued the killing was an aberration in an otherwise law-abiding life.

Timothy Wayne Adams killed his 19-month-old son, Timothy Jr., in a custody dispute with his estranged wife. Adams shot the toddler twice in the chest. At his trial, prosecutors called him a man who snapped because he was afraid of losing the child and killed his son because he wanted to punish his wife. 

That woman, Emma Adams, is one of the family members who was scheduled to witness the execution at the Walls Unit in Huntsville. Adams’ parents, who in the final weeks leading up to the scheduled execution made emotional pleas for their son’s life to be spared, were also scheduled to be among the group of witnesses.

Their appeal to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was denied unanimously last Friday. Columbus and Wilma Adams pleaded for clemency, asking that their son’s death sentence be commuted to life in prison without parole. They told 11 News they still suffer from the loss of their grandson and don’t want to lose their son forever, too. Adams’ parents visited him on death row in Livingston nearly every week.

Murder of a person under the age of 6 is a capital offense in Texas that qualifies for the death penalty. However, in the final months leading up to the execution date, as many as three jurors who sentenced Adams to death joined with his parents in asking for clemency.

Adams’ execution by lethal injection took place nearly 9 years to the day since his son’s murder. Timothy Adams Jr. died February 20, 2002.

There are currently 305 men and 10 women on Texas Death Row. Three more inmates are scheduled for execution between now and July.

Adams becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 466th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on December 7m 1982. Adams becomes the 226th condemned inmate to be put to death in Texas since Rick Perry became governor in 2001.

Adams becomes the 8th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1242nd overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Source: AP, Khou.com, Rick Halperin, February 22, 2011
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