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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…

Jury keeps death penalty as option for Colorado movie gunman Holmes

James E. Holmes
James E. Holmes
James Holmes, the Colorado movie massacre gunman, could face the death penalty after jurors found on Monday that aggravating factors including the cruel nature of his crimes counted for more than mitigating ones such as mental illness.

The panel of nine women and three men will now hear from victims of the July 2012 rampage at a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises." They will then deliberate on whether the 27-year-old shooter should be executed by lethal injection.

After cautioning members of the public against making any emotional outbursts in the small, windowless courtroom on the outskirts of Denver, Arapahoe County District Court Judge Carlos Samour began reading the jurors' forms.

Holmes, who killed 12 people and wounded 70, showed no reaction as the verdicts were delivered, staring straight head, hands in pockets. He has been mostly expressionless throughout the trial, which began in late April.

Sitting in the public gallery, Holmes' father, Bob, put an arm around the shoulders of his wife, Arlene, and the couple bowed their heads together.

The jury had deliberated for less than half a day on whether mitigating factors outweighed aggravating ones.

If just one member of the panel had found that they did, the former neuroscience graduate student would have received a life sentence with no possibility of parole.

"The handwriting is on the wall for James Holmes, and the writing says 'execution,'" said Denver-based legal analyst and defense attorney Scott Robinson.

"He faces an uphill battle from here on in. That was the last best chance for him to be spared capital punishment," Robinson added.

The jurors had already rejected Holmes' insanity plea and found him guilty on all 165 counts of murder, attempted murder and explosives charges relating to the mass shooting inside the Century 16 multiplex in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

They had also determined there were proven aggravating factors that could justify the death penalty. During the next phase of the trial, prosecutors have said they expect to call 15 victims to testify over two or three days.

Source: Reuters, August 3, 2015

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