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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…

Ohio has 22 killers set for execution -- but no lethal drugs

Ohio has 22 convicted murderers scheduled for execution during the next 3 years - but no lethal-injection drugs with which to kill them.

The 2015 Capital Crimes Report, required annually by state law, was issued Friday by Attorney General Mike DeWine. The report lists the status of all capital punishment cases currently pending in state and federal courts.

What DeWine's report did not address is the lack of drugs to conduct executions. The state has been at a standstill since the last execution, of Dennis McGuire on Jan. 16, 2014, largely due to the unavailability of suitable lethal-injection drugs and court challenges.

That has not changed, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction confirmed Friday.

"DRC continues to seek all legal means to obtain the drugs necessary to carry out court-ordered executions," spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said. "This process has included multiple options."

The options include seeking drugs from local "compounding pharmacies," which mix drugs to user specifications. However, despite a promise of confidentiality from the state, no pharmacies stepped up to provide the lethal drugs.

The state also hired an attorney to negotiate drug purchases and made overtures to suppliers overseas. None of the efforts proved successful.

The next execution, of Ronald Phillips of Summit County, is set for Jan. 12, 2017. There are 21 others scheduled through 2019, including 3 from Franklin County: Alva Campbell (May 10, 2017), Warren Henness (Feb. 13, 2018) and Kareem Jackson (July 10, 2019).

Gov. John Kasich was forced to postpone executions several times because of the drug issue, resulting in what is now a nearly three-year backlog of inmates awaiting death.

DeWine's report said there were 53 executions between Feb. 19, 1999, and 2014. 19 death sentences were commuted, 27 inmates died before execution, 74 cases were set aside by court action and 8 were bypassed because of the limited intellectual disability of the condemned.

Just 1 death sentence was handed down in Ohio last year, the lowest number since 2009. As recently as 2010, there were 7 death sentences statewide, but the number has steadily declined as jurors increasingly opt for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

The average age of the 53 men executed was about 46; 19 were black and 34 were white. They spent an average of 16.63 years on death row prior to execution.

The murderers who were executed killed 66 adults and 19 children, DeWine's report showed. There were 25 black and 56 white victims, split almost evenly between men and women.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, April 2, 2016

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