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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…

Florida Gov. Rick Scott orders first execution in 9 months

Jerry Correll
Jerry Correll
TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday approved the execution of Jerry Correll in late October, the first inmate in the state to be put to death in nine months and first since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for Florida to continue its lethal injections.

Correll’s execution was originally scheduled for February but was put on hold by the Florida Supreme Court. The justices worried that one of the drugs used by the state in executions might be ruled as unconstitutional “cruel and unusual punishment” by the U.S. Supreme Court.

This summer, however, the federal justices ruled that the drug midazolam — used by Florida and a few other states to paralyze inmates so their deaths are painless — is constitutional.

Critics said the drug might not be working as intended and suggested that people could be unable to move but still be conscious and in a great deal of pain during the execution.

After the higher court’s decision, Correll and his lawyers made another unsuccessful appeal. Correll was convicted and sentenced to death for stabbing four people in Orlando in 1985. All four died, including his ex-wife and 5-year-old daughter.

The Florida Supreme Court decided four days ago to lift the stay on his execution. Correll, 59, has exhausted all of his appeals.

Under Scott’s order, Correll is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Oct. 29.

His will be the first execution in Florida since Johnny Kormondy — convicted of fatally shooting a Pensacola banker in 1993 and raping his wife — was put to death Jan. 15. This marks one of the longest periods between executions since Scott became governor in 2011.

In recent years, the death penalty has been used less frequently nationwide, but Scott has bucked that trend. As governor, he has signed more death warrants than any of his predecessors since the death penalty came back into use in 1977.


Source: Miami Herald, Michael Auslen, October 6, 2015

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