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…

Texas Set For First Execution Since Obtaining New Supply Of Lethal Injection Drugs

Kent Sprouse
Kent Sprouse
Kent Sprouse is scheduled to be executed Thursday for the 2002 murders of a police officer and a gas station customer.

Sprouse, 42, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a Dallas police officer and a customer at a gas station in 2002.

In March, Texas acquired a new supply of pentobarbital, the sole primary drug it uses for executions, from an unidentified "licensed pharmacy" according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).

Like other active death penalty states facing a shortage of execution drugs, Texas had almost run out if its supply of pentobarbital.

A TDCJ spokesman said that it has acquired more pentobarbital to conduct all 4 executions scheduled next month, including Sprouse's.

"The drugs were purchased from a licensed pharmacy that has the ability to compound," TDCJ spokesman Jason Clark said.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Sprouse's case last November. He did not have any last-day appeals in the courts to stay the execution scheduled for Thursday at 6:00 p.m. CDT.

In 2004, Sprouse was convicted and sentenced to death for killing Officer Harry Steinfeldt and Pedro Moreno, a customer at a gas station.

In 2002, Sprouse entered a convenience store at a gas station 20 miles south of Dallas with a shotgun hung over his shoulder, according to court documents. After returning to his vehicle he fired his gun in the direction of 2 men at a pay phone.

He then attempted to speak to Pedro Moreno, a customer who was filling his truck with gas. When Moreno did not respond, Sprouse reached into his vehicle, pulled out a gun and shot and killed the 38-year-old man.

When Ferris Police Officer Harry Steinfeldt arrived at the scene, he approached Moreno who was on the ground before turning towards Sprouse's car. As he turned, Sprouse shot him twice under the arm - an area not protected by his bullet-proof vest. Before dying from his injuries, Steinfeldt fired 17 shots wounding Sprouse in the chest, leg, and hand, the Associated Press reported.

Tests revealed that Sprouse was high on drugs at the time of the shootings having consumed amphetamines, methamphetamines, and cannabis within the past 48 hours.

His lawyer presented an insanity defense to the court, but the jury rejected the defense and sentenced Sprouse to death for capital murder.

Sprouse told an officer that he shot Moreno because he thought he was an undercover cop, according to court records. "And I shot the other officer that was in uniform," he said.

He has unsuccessfully appealed to courts to focus on the question of whether he was mentally ill at the time of the shootings and therefore should not be executed.

Source: buzzfeed.com, April 8, 2015

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