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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…

Court Again Denies DNA Tests in Swearingen Case

Larry Swearingen
Larry Swearingen
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for the second time Wednesday reversed a state district judge’s order that would have allowed East Texas death row inmate Larry Swearingen to test DNA from evidence in his murder case.

Swearingen, 44, was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 19-year-old Melissa Trotter, then a Lone Star College student in 1998. 

He was sentenced to death in 2000. His execution date has been set and stayed multiple times.

The death row inmate has argued that he couldn’t have killed Trotter because he was in jail when she was murdered, and DNA testing would prove that someone else committed the crime. 

State District Judge Kelly Case twice granted Swearingen’s requests for evidence to be tested. 

Montgomery County prosecutors appealed each time, and now, the state’s highest criminal court has sided with the state again.

Each time, the court ultimately has ruled that results from DNA testing would not have overcome the “mountain of evidence” establishing Swearingen's guilt.

Source: Texas Tribune, Jonathan Silver, October 28, 2015

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