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…

1890: The Electric Chair, ‘Far Worse Than Hanging’

It was supposed to be a humane alternative to the noose. On March 22, 1890, The Times reported on a New York Court of Appeals ruling that a new invention, the electric chair, did not constitute cruel punishment. 

It would be used to execute a convicted wife killer, William Kemmler.

When the execution took place in August, the condemned man conducted himself with dignity, thus supplying a grace note to the grim proceedings.

The first use of the electric chair proved a bungled nightmare that left witnesses nauseated and weak-kneed, aghast at what they had seen, heard and smelled; even the district attorney wept.

The headline read “Far Worse Than Hanging,” and the reporter left no doubt about where he stood, declaring in the very first paragraph that the execution was “revolting” and a “disgrace to civilization.” 

Source: The New York Times, November 9, 2015

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