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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…

Florida Supreme Court halts Mark James Asay's execution

Mark James Asay
Mark James Asay
The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the execution of Mark James Asay, just hours after hearing oral arguments in his case.

Asay, convicted in 1987 of 2 Jacksonville murders, was scheduled to be executed March 17. But a January ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Hurst vs. Florida threw the state's death penalty into chaos.

Arguing before the state court Wednesday morning, Asay's lawyer, Martin McClain, invoked Hurst, saying that the problems raised by the U.S. Supreme Court in its ruling directly relate to Asay's case.

Asay, like the other residents on Florida's death row in Raiford, Fla., was convicted of his crimes by a unanimous jury but sentenced to death by the judge on the jury's recommendation. The Hurst ruling said that the juries must make the final decision on death sentences.

McClain -- who was also the lawyer for Michael Ray Lambrix and successfully stayed his execution last month -- argued that suggests the jury's verdict should be unanimous. 

In Asay's case, the jury recommendation came on a 9-3 vote.

The Florida Supreme Court's unanimous ruling Wednesday doesn't say anything about the merits of Asay's case. It simply stops the execution, which was ordered by Gov. Rick Scott prior to the Hurst ruling.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, March 2, 2016

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