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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…

Study finds racial, gender bias in Ohio executions

Ohio's 53 executions shown "vast inequities" in racial, gender and geography, a new study concludes.

Research by Frank Baumgartner, a University of North Carolina political science professor, are not a revelation to those familiar with Ohio's death penalty, which resumed in 1999 after a 36-year hiatus. But it does underline a consistent pattern that has been pointed out in state, national and media reports for years.

Baumgartner looked at Ohio's 53 executions between 1999 and 2014, finding "significant and troubling racial, gender, and geographic disparities with regards to who is executed in Ohio." Baumgartner concluded that the victim's race and gender, and the county where the murder occurred, influenced whether or not the killer was executed.

"The most concerning finding is that these racial and geographic disparities are quite significant, and they demonstrate that Ohio's death penalty is plagued by vast inequities which will undermine public confidence in the state's ability to carry out the death penalty in a fair and impartial manner," Baumgartner concluded.

Sharon L. Davies, the executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, said in response that the "race or gender of a victim, and the county of the crime, should not influence who is sentenced to die ... Ohio citizens and lawmakers should review the findings of this important research."

The study found in 65 % of all executions the murder victim was white. However, overall only 43 % of all victims are white. In addition, murderers of white females are 6 times more likely to be executed than those who kill black males.

Just 4 counties, Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Lucas and Summit, are responsible 1/2 of all executions. There are 69 of 88 counties where no one has been executed.

Hamilton County's execution rate is almost 9 times that of Franklin County.

Ohio Sen. Charleta Tavares, a Columbus Democrat, issued a statement condemning Ohio's death death penalty system.

"When you don't prosecute the death of black males as you do white females, you are essentially telling black males they are not worth as much, and that their lives do not matter," she said. "It is reminiscent of the darkest eras in American history, when the death of a white woman was seen as the ultimate crime that must be punished to the fullest extent of the law, but the death of a black male was not a cause for concern."

Source: Columbus Dispatch, Feb 1, 2016

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