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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…

California: Man on death row for Riverside pizza-store murder kills himself

San Quentin Death Row
San Quentin Death Row
Michael Lamont Jones, 44, who was convicted of murdering a Riverside pizza restaurant employee in 1989, committed suicide on Monday, May 25, at San Quentin State Prison, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced Tuesday.

The cause of death is pending the results of an autopsy; however, the death is being investigated as a suicide, a news release said. Jones was in a cell by himself.

Jones was sentenced to death on Dec. 13, 1991, by a Riverside County jury, for the Jan. 21, 1989, murder of Herman Weeks, 24, during the armed robbery of a Domino's Pizza store. Jones had been on death row since Jan. 2, 1992.

Jones appealed his conviction, citing incompetent defense counsel, erroneous jury instructions, tainted witness identification and unconstitutionality of the death penalty. In 2003, the state Supreme Court affirmed the conviction.

According to trial testimony, Weeks had his hands in the air when Jones fired 2 shots. Jones and an accomplice decided to rob the Domino's because they needed money for admission to a party, prosecutors said. According to court documents, a witness, Erin Burton, testified that in May 1989 she encountered Jones and asked, "Mike, about the Domino's thing, did you do it?" He replied, "Yeah." She asked, "How could you do it? How could you kill someone? Don't you feel any remorse?" He responded, "Nah. It was a good party."

A month before the Domino's robbery, Jones robbed the Mad Greek restaurant in Riverside and shot a customer, who survived.

Since 1978 when California reinstated capital punishment, 66 condemned inmates have died from natural causes, 24 have committed suicide, 13 have been executed in California, 1 was executed in Missouri, 7 have died from other causes, and the causes of death are pending for four condemned inmates, according to the Department of Corrections.

There are 749 people on California's death row.

Source: Press-Enterprise, May 27, 2015

Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com

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