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…

Lahore High Court stays execution of severely mentally ill Pakistani

A divisional bench of the Lahore High Court has stayed the execution of a man scheduled for execution Tuesday morning because of his severe mental illness.

Khizar Hayat, who suffers from schizophrenia, was scheduled for execution early Tuesday morning local time. However the bench, made up of Justice Mazhar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Syed Shabaz Ali Rizvi, stayed the execution in light of a petition from Hayat’s lawyers based on jail medical records documenting his mental illness.

A former police officer, Khizar was arrested and sentenced to death in 2003 for murder. In 2008 he started being treated for schizophrenia and a formal diagnosis was confirmed in 2009. He was moved to the prison hospital in 2012 because of his worsening psychiatric state and repeated attacks by fellow prisoners.

In 2009 Khizar was diagnosed with schizophrenia and has been prescribed medication since including: the anti-psycotic Epsidone (otherwise known as Risperidone); Serenace, which is an antipsychotic medication used in the treatment of schizophrenia; and Tegral, which is used for the treatment of resistant schizophrenia. Medical records show comments from Khizar's doctors on his condition including: “he is suffering from active symptoms of severe psychosis”; he is “suffering from extremely irrelevant talk.”

Today, after meeting with Khizar just hours before news of the stay reached them, Khizar’s mother reported that he had no idea that he was just hours from his execution and instead believed that his release had recently been authorised. He asked her to take him home.

The execution of people with mental illness is illegal under Islamic and international law. The jail authorities now have three days to respond to the lawyers’ petition.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at Reprieve which is representing Khizar Hayat said: “We are hugely relieved the judge has agreed with his lawyer’s arguments that Khizar is an extremely unwell man. He suffers from constant delusions, does not understand why he is in prison and did not know that he was set for execution. It would be a flagrant violation of Islamic and international law – not to mention basic common humanity – to execute someone in his state. Khizar’s death sentence must be commuted.”

Source: Reprieve, June 15, 2015

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

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