Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Bali 9 duo Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan await final fate

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran
1 week after having been spared the death penalty, Scott Rush was all smiles in a Bali jail yesterday.

But 2 Bali 9 colleagues still on death row were nervous.

"It's like bad luck to say anything," Myuran Sukumaran said yesterday, adding he was hopeful of a good outcome and happy Rush had been spared.

But as for planning big events, like a wedding, he said: "It is very difficult to think about the future, with something like this hanging over your head."

Last month, fellow Bali 9 member Martin Stephens married his Indonesian girlfriend in jail and the pair was allowed a conjugal night behind bars.

Sukumaran also has an Indonesian girlfriend, as does fellow death-row prisoner Andrew Chan. But both are coy about any plans to follow in Stephens' footsteps.

The results of their final appeal to the Supreme Court are pending and could be handed down within weeks.

Sukumaran was speaking at the launch in Bali's Kerobokan Prison yesterday of a new series of English and computer courses for prisoners.

The courses were inspired and partly run by Sukumaran, Chan and fellow Bali 9 member Matthew Norman, as part of their bid to provide rehabilitation behind bars and to give something back to Indonesia.

Fellow Australian prisoner Schapelle Corby is also awaiting a response to her final plea - for clemency from Indonesia's President, on humanitarian grounds. The plea is currently before President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono; however, there is no timeframe for a decision.

Source: Adelaide Now, May 19, 2011

I still have nightmares: Rush breaks silence on escaping death penalty

Scott Rush
"A mixture of guilt, a sense of release and the realisation that I have a 2nd chance" ... Scott Rush. It was, Scott Rush says, his ''dreadful burden'', a vision that came at night as he drifted off to sleep in the Tower, the notorious maximum security facility at Bali's Kerobokan prison.

There he was, tied to a post in a forest, a dozen policemen in front of him, their rifles pointed, trigger fingers ready to let loose a volley of bullets. In his first comments since news last week that his death sentence had been repealed, the young Australian heroin trafficker says: ''I still have the nightmares''.

But he is found new purpose, too, and he can now glimpse a life outside of the high walls of Kerobokan.

''I was in my cell when I received the news,'' he said, in handwritten remarks sent to the Herald. ''I sat there in silence for a while. I don't know how long but it was quite surreal …

''So many emotions welled up in me. It is a hard feeling to describe, a mixture of guilt, a sense of release and the realisation that I have a 2nd chance.''

The reality, Rush said, is ''still sinking in'' but ''my early determination to reform myself has been strengthened''.

''One dreadful burden has been lifted; a new responsibility has begun.''

While his death sentence was commuted to life in prison, 25-year-old Rush and his legal team believe there is still the possibility of freedom.

Like other prisoners in Indonesia serving life terms, Rush can make an application to the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to have the sentence changed to 20 years.

Such applications are often successful and 4 other Australian members of Rush's drug-smuggling syndicate serving life terms have already sent applications for consideration.

There is also the less likely option of a direct appeal to clemency to the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

If he ever gets out, Rush wants to be an ''ambassador against drugs''.

''I have met so many people inside Kerobokan prison whose lives have been destroyed by drugs, and [seen] the pain it has caused their families and young ones. So I would like to give back to my community and help others say NO to drugs,'' he wrote.

In his six years in prison Rush has battled deep depression and behaved erratically, including a flirtation with Islam that included his circumcision in a clandestine ceremony organised by some Muslim prisoners.

His guilt about the distress he caused his family has weighed heavily and Rush said he still could not forgive himself for joining eight other Australians to smuggle heroin from Bali to Australia.

Even so, his lawyer, Colin McDonald, said yesterday that Rush had been transformed.

''He looks changed,'' he said. ''The gaunt eyes are no longer there … I've never seen him look healthier.

''It's been hard to keep hope alive but, in this instance, fortunately hope has triumphed.''

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, May 19, 2011
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