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…

Prosecutors seek death penalty against parents in Surprise toddler's death

Carlos Cruz, Rosemary Velasco
Carlos Cruz, Rosemary Velasco
Prosecutors have filed papers to seek the death penalty against two Surprise parents accused of killing their 3-year-old daughter, officials said Monday.

Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Cobb said his office has filed the intent to seek the death penalty against Carlos Cruz and Rosemary Velazco in the death of their daughter, Alexandra Velazco-Tercerro.

Alexandra weighed only 15 pounds when she was found unresponsive at her family's home near Greenway Road and Grand Avenue. Police reported that she had a broken knee and head wounds so severe that her skull was exposed. Alexandra was pronounced dead shortly after being hospitalized May 23, one week before her fourth birthday.

Cruz and Velazco were both charged with first-degree murder and felony child abuse. Two other children in the home were placed with the Arizona Department of Child Safety. The family had previous contacts with DCS dating back to 2011, authorities said.

Cobb said a date for the couple's upcoming trial has not been set.

Cruz, 28, and Velazco, 36, remain jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail each and have declined requests to be interviewed by The Arizona Republic.

Source: Arizona Republic, Whitney M. Woodworth, Sept. 21, 2015

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