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…

In a first, rare double-death and double-life sentence for man who raped, murdered 2-year-old

NAGPUR: The Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court on Monday confirmed a rare double-death and double-life sentence given to a 21-year-old man for the rape and murder of a two-year-old girl. The sentence was the first of its kind, given under Section 376A of the Indian Penal Code, under an amendment made in light of the gruesome Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi.

A division bench comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Prasanna Varale confirmed the verdict of a Yavatmal sessions court sentencing Shatrughan Masram to death for raping and murdering his two-year-old niece on February 11, 2013.

Besides capital punishment under Section 376A, Masram was awarded another death sentence under Section 302 of IPC for murder by the Yavatmal court. He was also sentenced to two life terms under Section 376 (2) (f) (i) (m) (rape) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012.

The high court also turned down Masram's contention for leniency considering his young age, making it clear that it can't be mitigating circumstance in cases of extreme depravity. The court also categorised the case as "rarest of rare", which under a legal precedent is critical precedent for the awarding of death penalty.

The incident took place in Ghatanji town of Yavatmal. The two-year-old victim belonged to a poor family of labourers from Andhra Pradesh, who had arrived in Ghatanji just four months before the incident. The girl's parents had left her at the house of a relative on the day of the incident, where they had gone for a local temple festival.

Masram had taken the girl around 7:30 pm to a construction site and raped her. The girl died on the spot. Her parents, who had been searching for her, found her with Masram, who was attempting to escape.

Source: The Times of India, Vaibhav Ganjapure, October 14, 2015

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