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…

Court denies Richard Glossip appeal, Wednesday execution to go forward

Richard Glossip, Sr. Helen Prejean
Richard Glossip, Sr. Helen Prejean
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has denied death row inmate Richard Glossip's appeal and application for an evidentiary hearing.

In a decision released Monday, the court ruled 3-2 to deny the appeal. 

In an opinion written by Judge David Lewis, he states that Glossip has not suffered a miscarriage of justice. 

Presiding Judge Clancy Smith and Judge Arlene Johnson dissented with the decision. In her dissenting decision Smith said that since Glossip's execution is imminent he will suffer irreparable harm without a stay and that she would grant a 60 day stay for an evidentiary hearing.

Smith said the state has no interest in executing an innocent man. Judge Robert Hudson and Vice Presiding Judge Gary Lumpkin concurred with Lewis' opinion. 

Glossip's attorney Don Knight said the case splintered the Court of Criminal Appeals with the 3-2 vote.

"Two Judges believed a further stay of execution and a hearing on innocence was required on the facts." Knight said. "We should all be deeply concerned about an execution under such circumstances."

Glossip is scheduled to be executed at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Source: Fox25, Sept. 28, 2015

Oklahoma's highest criminal court rejects death row inmate's innocence claim; execution set

An Oklahoma appeals court on Monday narrowly denied a death row inmate's last-minute request for a new hearing and ordered that his execution may proceed.

In a 3-2 decision, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals denied Richard Glossip's request for an evidentiary hearing and an emergency stay of execution. The court ruled the state can proceed with Glossip's execution, which is scheduled for Wednesday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

Glossip, 52, was scheduled to be executed on Sept. 16 for ordering the beating death of a motel owner, despite his claims that he was framed by the actual killer, Justin Sneed, who is serving a life sentence. But just hours before he was set to receive a lethal injection, the court granted Glossip a 2-week reprieve after his attorneys claimed they had new evidence that he was innocent, including another inmate's claim that he overheard Sneed admit to framing Glossip.

But the court ruled the new evidence simply expands on theories that were already raised on his original appeals.

"This evidence merely builds upon evidence previously presented to this court," Judge David Lewis wrote in his opinion.

Glossip's execution will be the 1st in Oklahoma since a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state's 3-drug lethal injection formula in June. Glossip, the lead plaintiff in the case, argued that the sedative midazolam violated the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment because it didn't adequately render an inmate unconscious before the 2nd and 3rd drugs were administered.

Glossip's case attracted international attention after actress Susan Sarandon, who portrayed nun and death penalty opponent Sister Helen Prejean in the movie "Dead Man Walking," took up his cause. Prejean has served as Glossip's spiritual adviser and frequently visited him in prison.

Source: Associated Press, Sept. 28, 2015

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