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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…

Arkansas Buys Lethal Injection Drugs, Aims To End Execution Hiatus

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Reuters) - Arkansas has bought drugs it plans to use for lethal injections, officials said on Wednesday, as it looks to end a decade-long hiatus on executions that is the longest of any Southern U.S. state.

Arkansas law allows information on the drugs used in executions and the vendors supplying them to remain secret.

Local reports said the drugs included midazolam, a sedative death penalty opponents had challenged as inappropriate for executions, arguing it cannot even achieve the level of unconsciousness required for surgery.

On June 29, the Supreme Court found the drug did not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, a ruling that provoked a caustic debate among the justices about the death penalty.

The Arkansas attorney general, Leslie Rutledge, acknowledged through a spokesman that the chemicals planned for use in Arkansas were on hand but declined further comment. The Arkansas Department of Correction did not return a call seeking comment.

Eight of the 35 men on Arkansas’s death row, 20 of whom are black, have exhausted all their appeals, according to Rutledge.

It is the attorney general's responsibility to ask the governor to set execution dates, but Judd Deere, Rutledge’s press secretary, said she had "no timetable to offer on that at this time."

Arkansas has not put to death a condemned inmate in 10 years. Appeals by death row prisoners and legal disputes over the constitutionality of drugs and procedures in capital cases have idled the Arkansas death chamber since 2005, when Eric Nance, 45, was put to death by lethal injection.

Earlier this year, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law a measure giving prison officials the option of using a single large dose of barbiturate or a combination of three drugs to cause death.

Source: Reuters, August 13, 2015

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