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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…

Idaho: Northwest killer denied death sentence appeal

Joseph Edward Duncan III
Joseph Edward Duncan III
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied hearing an appeal of a man who was sentenced to death for kidnapping, torturing and killing a young northern Idaho boy after killing several of members of his family.

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson announced Wednesday that the high court had made their decision earlier this week.

Joseph Edward Duncan III faces the death penalty for the 2005 murder of 9-year-old Dylan Groene. 

He also faces several life sentences for the murder of 3 family members and the kidnapping of his then-8-year-old sister.

10-year-old Anthony Marinez’s murder had gone unsolved until Duncan confessed after he was arrested at a Denny’s in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in July 2005, with 8-year-old Shasta Groene, six weeks after he kidnapped the girl and her brother Dylan. He had killed their mother, her boyfriend and her 13-year-old son.

Dylan’s remains were found at a remote campsite in the Lolo National Forest in Montana. Duncan told investigators he had an “epiphany” that stopped him from killing Shasta; that statement has been a focus of the mental competency proceedings.

Though he has never been charged, Duncan also has confessed to killing two girls in Seattle in 1996, just after he was released from prison after raping a boy at gunpoint when he was 17.

He was facing child molestation charges in Minnesota when he abandoned his apartment in Fargo, N.D, in May 2005, where he studied computer science at North Dakota State University.

At the time, Duncan represented himself at his sentencing hearing but later waived his right to appeal. 

He has since changed his mind and his defense attorneys say he wasn't mentally competent to waive his rights.

The high court's decision affirms U.S. District Court Judge Edward Lodge's 2013 finding that Duncan was competent to waive his appeal.

No execution date has been set, and Duncan's attorneys may still seek other post-conviction relief.

Source: Associated Press, March 3, 2016

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