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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…

Attempt To End Death Penalty In South Dakota Fails

South Dakota
South Dakota
A bill to end the death penalty in South Dakota failed in the state legislature.

State Senator Art Rusch, who spent many years as a prosecutor and circuit judge, brought Senate Bill 94 to the House State Affairs Committee Wednesday.

Testimony on both sides was often emotional. Lynnette Johnson of Sioux Falls lost her husband on his 63rd birthday in 2011. Ronald "RJ" Johnson was attacked and killed during an escape attempt by 1 men serving life prison terms. Johnson's widow is opposed to repealing executions in the state.

Attorney General Marty Jackley says he's aware of the strong feelings for and against executions in the state. He says his job is to protect innocent lives in South Dakota.

"And unfortunately, in our society there are just some individuals that are so dangerous, so vile, that in order to protect innocent life, you might have to take a life," Jackley says.

The State Affairs Committee defeated a "do pass" motion on the measure; members then deferred Senate Bill 94 to the 41st Legislative Day.

Source: sdpb.org, Feb. 11, 2016


Senate committee rejects measure to repeal death penalty

A Senate committee has defeated a measure that would repeal the death penalty in South Dakota.

The Senate State Affairs committee voted 7-2 on Wednesday against the plan.

Republican Sen. Arthur Rusch, a former judge, is the measure's Senate sponsor. He says the practice overburdens counties and traumatizes jurors and court personnel.

Rusch told the committee that he has personally prosecuted a death penalty case and has seen the damaging effects firsthand.

Rusch says death penalty cases are unfairly taxing on county governments and have long-term effects on those involved. He also says he doesn't believe the punishment is an effective deterrent on crime.

The committee voted down 2 measures to repeal or limit the death penalty last session.

Source: Associated Press, Feb. 11, 2016

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