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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…

Texas death row inmate convicted of killing prison guard wins reprieve

Robert Pruett
Robert Pruett
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) A Texas death row inmate who faced execution later this month for the murder of a corrections officer won a reprieve Thursday.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling halted the scheduled Aug. 23 execution of Robert Pruett, 36, who was sentenced to death for the December 1999 stabbing death of corrections officer Daniel Nagle, 37, at the McConnell Prison Unit near Beeville.

Nagle was stabbed seven times and died of a heart attack.

Investigators found a ripped up disciplinary note beside his body that led them to Pruett, who was serving a 99-year sentence at the unit.

Pruett, who maintains his innocence, says his name was on the note found because the guard wrote him up for taking his lunch out into the yard.

Pruett's lawyers are appealing a ruling from the Bee County trial court that rejected arguments Pruett wouldn't have been convicted if results of DNA testing now available had been known at the time of his trial in 2002.

The appeals court set no timetable in its ruling Thursday and offered no further explanation.

Source: The Associated Press, August 11, 2016


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