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…

U.S. appeals court stays Ohio death row inmate's potential execution

Ohio's death chamber
Ohio's death chamber
A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday granted an Ohio death row inmate's request to stay his potential execution, saying lower courts failed to properly weigh his intellectual abilities.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati said in its opinion that Ohio state courts incorrectly applied the law with regard to whether Andre Williams was intellectually disabled. It sent the case back to the district court to reconsider Williams' argument that he was ineligible for the death penalty because of his low mental capabilities.

"We note that clearly established federal law ... requires courts to consider all relevant evidence bearing on an individual's intellectual functioning," Judge Karen Nelson Moore wrote in the ruling.

In 1989, Williams, now 48, was convicted and given the death penalty for the aggravated murder of George Melnick, 65, and the attempted rape and attempted murder of Katherine Melnick, also 65.

Williams appealed his death sentence, but an Ohio county court and the state's 11th District Court of Appeals ruled against Williams' right to an evidentiary hearing in the matter.

His attorneys argued that records showed Williams at the age of 15 had a "social age of 9" and an IQ of 67, which met the criteria for the U.S. Supreme Court's standard of intellectual disability.

State attorneys countered Williams' adult IQ was 75, based on a test administered in prison. That was within a five-point margin of error of the lowest score possible for allowing the death penalty.

Moore admonished the lower court for relying on intelligence tests that are imprecise and said the childhood IQ score "was directly relevant to the obviously extremely important issue of whether Williams should live or die based on his intellectual functioning."

There is no date scheduled for Williams' execution and a district judge has stayed all executions in the state until 2016 so Ohio can procure the drugs needed in the lethal injection.

Source: Reuters, July 7, 2015

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

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Iran: Three Hand Amputations, Four Hangings Carried Out in Qom

Iran: Woman Asylum Seeker Lashed 80 Times After Being Deported From Norway

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Iran: Three executions carried out, two in front of large crowds

Gambia: President Barrow Signs Abolition Of Death Penalty Treaty

Texas Child Killer John Battaglia Found Competent for Execution

Two Myanmar migrants make final appeal in Koh Tao murder case

Judge warns death row inmate to keep Nevada's execution manual secret

Seventeen Hanged in Various Iranian Prisons, One in Public

Iran: More Public Executions, Prisoner Hanged While Crowd Watched