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

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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…

Virginia lethal injection drug same as one in Ohio suit

The Virginia Department of Corrections said Thursday that it has approved the sedative midazolam as an alternative first drug in the state's three-drug execution protocol. Midazolam was one of two drugs used in last month's execution of an Ohio inmate who made snorting and gasping sounds and took an unusually long 26 minutes to die. His family is suing Ohio.

Illinois-based Hospira Inc., which manufactures midazolam, opposes its use for capital punishment but has been unable to stop state prison systems from obtaining it from suppliers.

The development comes as many death penalty states are grappling with a shortage of drugs that can be used in executions. Many of the drugs are manufactured in European countries that have prohibited their export for use in capital punishment.

Virginia lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow the state to use the electric chair in executions if lethal injection drugs are not available when an inmate's execution date arrives. Under current law, death row inmates can choose either the electric chair or lethal injection. If they decline to choose, they get the injection.

Source: AP, Feb. 21, 2014

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