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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…

Kalamazoo police: Uber driver’s alleged rampage is ‘baffling’

Jason Brian Dalton
Jason Brian Dalton
KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Uber driver authorities say fatally shot six people during a series of seemingly random attacks over the weekend was charged with murder Monday as questions swirled around the bloody rampage.

Jason Brian Dalton made “incriminating statements” after his arrest, but did not directly confess to the shootings, Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said Monday.

Investigators continue to look for a motive in the shooting, but so far detectives have not found any explanation, Hadley said.

“That is honestly the most baffling part of it,” Hadley said. “Aside from some anecdotal things, there is nothing we can put our finger on and say that’s why.”

Residents here have reeled since this city of about 75,000 people joined the ever-growing list of American communities riven by a shooting rampage, a group that since last year has grown to include San Bernardino, Calif.; Roseburg, Ore.; and Charleston, S.C.

“It’s happened everywhere and now we got a piece of it,” said Sherry Rush, 59, who lives several doors down from the townhome where police say the first victim was shot.

While other mass shootings have erupted in seemingly safe locations — a movie theater, a school, a company holiday party — the shootings here were mobile, gunshots allegedly fired by a man who authorities and Uber riders say kept seeking fares after the bloodshed began.

According to authorities, Dalton shot eight people in three different locations over the course of four hours on Saturday, with the final shooting occurring in a Cracker Barrel parking lot shortly after 10 p.m. Six of the victims died. The other two — including a teenaged girl — were seriously injured.

Hadley said authorities have interviewed Dalton’s wife and children, and intend to interview the last 14 people Dalton transported in his car, using a list from Uber. Hadley described the company as “very cooperative” and said interviews with the passengers could give police “insight into [Dalton’s] behavior and state of mind.”

One city official called the rampage “unexplainable.” A county official described it as “bizarre,” a sentiment echoed by Jessica Borden, who stood behind the counter of a rural convenience store not far from the accused gunman’s home and where he had been a regular.

Dalton, 45, appeared in a small Kalamazoo courtroom through a closed-circuit television feed Monday for his arraignment on 16 counts stemming from the rampage. In addition to six murder charges, Dalton also faces eight counts of possessing a firearm during a felony and two counts of “assault with intent to murder,” according to a complaint filed in court and signed by Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting.

If convicted, Dalton faces up to life in prison; Michigan does not have the death penalty.

In a statement, Getting called the filing of charges “the first step,” adding that “the investigation is not over and the search for answers will continue.” In an interview, Getting added that Dalton had “acknowledged his involvement in each of these incidents” in interviews with authorities.


Source: The Washington Post, Mark Guarino, Wesley Lowery and Mark Berman February 22

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