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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…

Execution set for July 14 would be the 6th in Georgia this year

John Wayne Conner
John Wayne Conner
Conner was sentenced to die 34 years ago

John Wayne Conner was scheduled Friday to become the sixth man executed in Georgia this year - a record number since the death penalty was reinstated here 40 years ago.

The time for his lethal injection for the 1992 murder of a drinking buddy was set for 7 p.m. on July 14.

Conner's scheduled execution comes as the pace of executions in Georgia is increasing. Yet, death sentences are being rendered in Georgia murder trials less often.

At this time, Conner is the only death row inmate who has exhausted his appeals, though several others are nearing the end of legal recourse.

On Jan. 9, 198, Conner, Beverly Bates and J.T. White went to a party in Eastman, Ga., but when it was over they weren't ready to call it a night.

So they returned to Conner's house to keep drinking.

But Conner, then 26, and White, 29, needed more bourbon. They walked to a neighbor's house in hopes of getting a ride to the liquor store but the neighbor refused, so they started walking back to Conner's house.

On the way, Conner told investigators, White "made a statement about he would like to go to bed with my girlfriend and so I got mad and we got into a fight and fought all the way over to the oak tree and I hit him with a quart bottle."

White ran and Conner chased him. The fight continued in a ditch by the road.

"He was swinging, trying to get up, or swinging at me to try to hit me," Conner told investigators. "There was a stick right there ... and I grabbed it and went to beating him with it."

Conner left White for dead in a ditch and went home to wake Bates. He told her they had to leave town because he thought he had killed White.

But he also needed to make sure, so they drove back to the ditch where White and Conner had fought.

Bates told investigators she heard a thud moments after Conner disappeared into the woods. He came back to the car, telling her he was sure. "Let's go," he said.

Conner, now 60, and Bates were picked up the next day in Butts County, which is where Georgia's death row is located.

The last time Georgia carried out an execution was on April 27, when Daniel Anthony Lucas died by lethal injection 18 years and four days after he murdered Steven Moss and his 2 children in their Jones County home.

This year Georgia has also executed Joshua Bishop, Kenneth Fults, Travis Hittson and Brandon Astor Jones.

The only other time Georgia has put to death as many as 5 people in a year was in 1987.

Source: myajc.com, June 24, 2016

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