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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…

Oregon Supreme Court denies death row inmate Gary Haugen's bid for execution

Gary Haugen in court
Death row inmate Gary Haugen cannot legally force Gov. John Kitzhaber to carry out his execution, the Oregon Supreme Court decided Thursday.

Rather, the governor has the legal authority to delay the twice-convicted killer's execution, the court said, despite the inmate's insistence that he be put to death.

"The Oregon Constitution does not provide the recipient of a Governor's act of clemency with a corresponding individual right to reject that clemency," the unanimous opinion authored by Chief Justice Thomas Balmer states. "In fact, in describing the Governor's power to grant pardons, commutations, and reprieves, the constitutional text does not refer to the recipient of the grant of clemency at all."

The court's decision reverses a trial court judge's ruling last August that sided with arguments from Haugen and his attorney Harrison Latto that Haugen must accept the governor's reprieve for it to be valid.

In a statement, Kitzhaber said he was pleased with the court's decision.

"I renew my call for a re-evaluation of our current system that embraces capital punishment, which has devolved into an unworkable system that fails to meet the basic standards of justice," he said. "I am still convinced that we can find a better solution that holds offenders accountable and keeps society safe, supports the victims of crime and their families and reflects Oregon values."


Source: Oregon Live, June 20, 2013

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