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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…

Louisiana: Convicted cop avoids death penalty

Robert Barthelemy
Robert Barthelemy
MANY, LA (KSLA) - Former Natchitoches police officer Robert Barthelemy will spend the rest of his life in prison without parole.

The plea deal was taken Saturday morning during the sentencing phase of the first degree murder trial in which he was found guilty Thursday.

The deal comes a day after victim impact statements were heard as the sentencing phase got under way on Friday.

According to the Justice for Tony Procell page on Facebook, Procell's family was approached with the plea bargain in which Barthelemy gave up the right to appeal and accepted it.

"Please know that we, as a family, gave him his sentence and we are happy with our decision. Also know that with this sentence he has waived his right to appeal the case in any manner. Unlike some families experiencing similar tragic circumstances we will not be tied up in endless trials for years to come. We can finally have the closure we hoped to have."

Barthelemy was indicted on Sept. 9, 2013 on charges of first degree murder, second degree kidnapping and home invasion, after investigators say Tony Procell was forcibly taken from his Sabine Parish home by Barthelemy at gunpoint.

Procell's body was found 5 days after his disappearance in a shallow grave in the Kisatchie National Forest.

Barthelemy initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, and later changed his plea to not guilty by reason of insanity.

Barthelemy and Procell had served in the National Guard together, and prosecutors have said the killing was the result of a dispute over a woman.

The trial lasted 6 days, during which Barthelemy's defense attempted to convince the jury that he killed Procell because he had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after serving in the same battalion during his second tour in Iraq.

Shreveport attorney Richard Goorley described Robert Barthelemy as a soldier broken by war and tormented by haunting memories of combat. Goorley blames PTSD for eventually leading Barthelemy to kill Procell after they returned home because he believed Procell had impregnated his estranged wife.

It took the jury 2 hours to return a guilty verdict late Thursday night.

There are no winners here. While we are happy with the outcome we would give anything to have our sweet angel back in our lives. We'll miss him. Everyday for the rest of our lives we'll miss him. But we can know that as each and everyone of us wishes him the peace he deserves that he's shining down upon us affirming our wishes with a great big "roger that!" - The Procell Family

Goorley called the life sentence a "good result," considering his client was facing the possibility of the death penalty.

The jury, which was selected in St. Landry Parish due to pre-trial publicity and has been dismissed.

Source: KSLA news, Carolyn Roy, October 17, 2015

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