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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…

New bill aiming to make death penalty easier to impose in Colorado

6 Republican lawmakers in Colorado are pushing to pass a bill that will remove the unanimous voting requirement for death sentences. If passed, the law could make it easier to impose death penalties during court proceedings.

The bill, called SB 64, is sponsored by State Representatives Kevin Lundberg, John Cooke, Vicki Marble, Laura Woods and Kevin Grantham. It is still awaiting to be discussed in the state's House of Representatives.

In the current judicial system, the jury can only allow a death sentence to be ruled by the court if all 12 of its members agree on a unanimous vote. With the proposed law, the politicians are aiming to change this rule and reduce the number of votes to 9 instead of 12, The Denver Channel has learned.

According to 9News, SB 64 was drafted by its sponsors in response to the mass shooting that occurred in 2012 during the midnight screening of Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises" in a theater in Aurora, Colorado. The incident left 12 people dead.

The gunman, who was identified by previous reports as James Eagan Holmes, was supposed to receive death penalty. Instead, he receive a life sentence because the votes of the jury members were divided. For the sponsors of the bill, this law would empower the court to lay down the most serious form of punishment for heinous crimes.

However, the chances of the bill passing seem a bit dim given the current status of Colorado's House of Representatives. Currently, majority of the lawmakers serving the state are Democrats and most of them are against capital punishment. One of them, Representative Jovan Melton of Aurora, noted that the state should not consider loosening the requirement for death penalty.

"[The death penalty] really is an archaic practice that needs to go away," he said according to 9News. "By reducing the threshold and making it easier, we're just doing the wrong thing."

Source: lawyerherald.com, January 20, 2016

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