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…

Pennsylvania: Wolf asks court to uphold death-penalty ban

Governor Wolf
Governor Wolf
Gov. Wolf Tuesday asked the state Supreme Court to ignore Attorney General Kathleen Kane's challenge to his death-penalty moratorium, arguing that the justices already have decided to consider a similar petition brought by the Philadelphia District Attorney.

In a court filing that responds to Kane's petition, Wolf also repeated the claim he's made since February: That he has the right under the state Constitution to stay executions as he awaits a Senate report on capital punishment.

The death-penalty issue has presented yet another challenge to Wolf, this time from members of his own party, as he tries to carry out a sweeping agenda that sharply contrast with that of his Republican predecessor.

The 1st-year governor is in a protracted fight with Republicans over his budget, now 3 weeks overdue. He's also tangling with the GOP in the state's courts over the director of Pennsylvania's Office of Open Records, Erik Arneson, whom Wolf fired in January.

The state's Commonwealth Court reinstated Arneson last month, saying the governor had overstepped his authority. Wolf is appealing the case to the Supreme Court.

Kane filed her petition before the state high court on July 6, asking the justices to allow the execution of Hubert L. Michael Jr., a York County man who confessed to murdering a teenager two decades ago. Kane, a Democrat, said Wolf abused his powers, ignoring state law and a jury's verdict when he issued temporary reprieve to the killer.

Philadelphia DA Seth Williams, also a Democrat, made an almost identical argument in February regarding Terry Williams, who was sentenced to die in 1984 for the killing of Amos Norwood, a Germantown church volunteer. The state Supreme Court decided in March to review the DA's petition, scheduling a Sept. 10 hearing.

Responding to Kane on Tuesday, Wolf's attorneys argued that "judicial economy would be frustrated by requiring the parties to submit redundant briefing each time a prosecutor challenges a gubernatorial reprieve."

Currently 186 people are on death row in Pennsylvania. But only 3 have been executed since Pennsylvania reinstated capital punishment in 1978 - 2 in 1995, the the 3rd in 1999. All 3 had ended their appeals and asked to be executed.

A month after taking office, Wolf issued his moratorium, which he said would continue until after he gets the report of a task force studying the future of capital punishment.

"This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive," Wolf said in February.

Source: philly.com, July 21, 2015

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

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