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…

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran's court challenge adjourned after witness no-show

Andrew Chan (left) and Myuran Sukumaran (right)
A court challenge by two Australians facing execution in Indonesia has been adjourned until next week after their lawyers could not produce a key witness.

Wednesday's court appearance was scheduled for lawyers representing Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to present evidence for their case.

They are applying to have a full trial go ahead so they can challenge the president's refusal to consider granting them clemency.

But a key expert witness who was to testify for the men was not able to attend court as he was teaching at a university.

Lawyers for the two convicted drug smugglers were also late to court, prompting complaints from the president's lawyers.

The lead judge has given them until Monday to produce the witness, warning them not to be late.

The lawyers for Chan and Sukumaran, however, did submit documents on Wednesday.

"There are 10 evidence letters for the judges consideration, all about the law related to the clemency," lawyer Leonard Arpan said.

Lawyers for president Joko Widodo have argued the court was right to determine it did not have the jurisdiction and instead the supreme court had already ruled that presidential clemency could not be challenged.

Chan and Sukumaran are among a group of 11 drug offenders due to face the firing squad together, and their executions will be delayed until all of those cases have been resolved.

They were transferred to the Nusakambangan island prison off Central Java from their Bali prison early this month in preparation for their executions.

Source: abc.net.au, George Roberts, March 25, 2015

Australians on Death Row Submit Appeal Evidence; French convict's appeal adjourned to next week

Jakarta. Lawyers for two Australian drug smugglers facing execution in Indonesia submitted evidence to a court on Wednesday as part of the men’s latest attempt to avoid the firing squad.

A French death row convict had his appeal adjourned to next week.

Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, the ringleaders of the so-called “Bali Nine” drug trafficking gang, were sentenced to death in 2006 for trying to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.

Their appeals for presidential clemency, typically a death row convict’s final chance of avoiding the firing squad, were recently rejected by President Joko Widodo.

The men, in their early 30s, are expected to be executed at the same time as eight other drug offenders. In addition to the Frenchman, these include convicts from Brazil, Nigeria, Ghana and the Philippines and one Indonesian.

Jakarta initially said the executions would take place in February and nothing could stop them going ahead. However, authorities backed off following an international outcry and are now letting all pending legal appeals run their course.

The Australians’ legal team, in its latest bid to avoid execution, are arguing against Joko’s decision to reject their pleas for clemency, saying he failed to assess their rehabilitation or give reasons for his decision.

The Jakarta State Administrative Court dismissed the bid last month, saying clemency was the president’s prerogative. The Australians’ lawyers are now appealing that decision.

At at brief hearing on Wednesday, they submitted several documents to the court related to laws on the president’s prerogative, said lawyer Leonard Aritonang without giving further details.

The lawyers will return to court on Monday with an expert witness.

Sukumaran and Chan were transferred earlier this month from jail on Bali to Nusakambangan prison island off Java, where they will be put to death.

Serge Atlaoui, a Frenchman on death row since 2007 after being convicted of drugs charges, is also trying to avoid the firing squad by applying for a judicial review of his sentence. But his case at the Tangerang District Court, outside Jakarta, was adjourned on Wednesday until April 1 after he failed to show up for the hearing to sign paperwork that will allow the case to be transferred to the Supreme Court.

Lawyer Nancy Yuliana said there had been a “problem with regard to the funding of transportation” to bring Atlaoui from jail on Nusakambangan to the court.

Source: Agence France-Presse, March 25, 2015

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