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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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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…

Death penalty repeal pushed in Delaware Legislature

Lawmakers returning to Dover today will consider repealing Delaware’s death penalty, overturning all 17 current death row sentences and substituting life without parole.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, is teaming with the American Civil Liberties Union to push the repeal effort. A rally is planned today at Legislative Hall in support of the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Gary Simpson, a Milford Republican, also is backing the bill. But significant opposition is expected from the Delaware Police Chiefs’ Council and the Delaware State Troopers Association, which say those convicted of killing police officers should face capital punishment.

Gov. Jack Markell would not take a position on the bill when asked recently, unlike his Democratic counterpart in Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has lent strong support to the repeal effort in his state.

“I have an open mind,” Markell said.

Peterson said the arguments for repeal are:

• Capital punishment does not deter violent crime.

• It is costly for the state to defend and prosecute.

• Punishment is morally flawed.

“I don’t think the state should be in the business of killing people,” Peterson said. “It just is so bizarre to me that we would say to somebody that what you did was so horrible, that now we’re going to do it.

“How do we justify that?” she asked.


Source: Delaware Online, March 12, 2013

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