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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…

Missouri executes Earl Forrest

Earl Forrest
Earl Forrest
A man convicted of killing 2 people in a drug dispute and a sheriff's deputy in a subsequent shootout was put to death Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri.

The procedure started at 7:10 p.m. and time of death was declared at 7:18 p.m.


Forrest's attorney, Kent Gipson,sought a stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster countered that the Supreme Court has already resolved that debate.

Early in the afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for Earl Forrest.

A clemency request was turned down by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon hours before Forrest's scheduled execution.

According to court documents, Forrest had been drinking when he went to Smith's home in the southern Missouri town of Salem and demanded that she fulfill her promise to buy a lawn mower and mobile home for him in exchange for introducing her to a source for methamphetamine.

Wells was visiting Smith at the time. An argument ensued, and Forrest shot Wells in the face. He shot Smith 6 times and took a lockbox full of meth valued at $25,000.

When police converged on Forrest's home, he shot Barnes and Dent County Sheriff Bob Wofford, according to court documents. Forrest was also shot in the exchange of gunfire, along with his girlfriend, Angela Gamblin. Wofford and Gamblin survived.

Missouri has been one of the most prolific states for executions in recent years, 2nd only to Texas.

The state has executed 18 prisoners since November 2013, including 6 last year. Earl Forrest becomes the 1,436th person executed in the U.S. since 1976.

Source: The Associated Press, Twitter live feed, Rick Halperin, May 12, 2016 (local time)


Activist against death penalty detained in Missouri

JEFFERSON CITY(AP) - An activist who opposes the death penalty has been temporarily detained at the Missouri Capitol after attempting to enter the governor's office.

Jeff Stack was handcuffed and detained for trespassing Wednesday when he tried to open a door leading from the public waiting area to the inner office of Gov. Jay Nixon.

Stack said he wanted to talk to Nixon about stopping Wednesday's scheduled execution of Earl Forrest. He said death penalty opponents have "been polite for decades" but that "the governor hasn't really listened."

Capitol police later removed the handcuffs, saying no charges were being pressed.

Stack is a registered lobbyist for Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.

Source: The Associated Press, May 11, 2016

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