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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…

Most Boston Residents Prefer Life Term Over Death Penalty in Marathon Case, Poll Shows

BOSTON — Despite this city’s immersion in a trial that is replaying the horrific details of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, the vast majority of Bostonians say in a new poll that if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the admitted bomber, is found guilty, he should be sent to prison for life and not condemned to death.

Given the choice of sentencing Mr. Tsarnaev to death or to prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole, 62 percent of Boston voters chose life in prison, while 27 percent said he should be put to death, according to a poll released Monday by WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station.

Previous polls have shown Bostonians opposing the death penalty for Mr. Tsarnaev. A Boston Globe survey conducted in September 2013, five months after the bombings, found that 57 percent favored life in prison while 33 percent wanted him put to death.

But the WBUR poll is the first to be conducted since Mr. Tsarnaev’s lawyers admitted this month that he had participated in the crimes. And it was conducted in the midst of his trial, which has included survivors recounting the graphic details of their limbs being blown off, and of loved ones being killed.

The poll clearly shows that Boston voters have nonetheless held firm on his potential punishment, underscoring the enduring depth of sentiment here against the death penalty.


Source: The New York Times, Katharine Q. Seelye, March 23, 2015

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