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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…

Accused L.A. airport gunman to be spared death penalty in plea deal

TSA officers LAX Airport
The man accused of killing a security screener and wounding three others in a 2013 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport has agreed to plead guilty in a deal with prosecutors that would spare him the death penalty, according to court documents filed on Thursday.

Murder of a federal officer, the most serious offense among the 11 criminal counts to which Paul Anthony Ciancia, 26, has agreed to plead guilty, carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison without parole.

He has also agreed to plead guilty to attempted murder of a federal officer, violence at an airport, discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence causing death and discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence, according to the plea agreement filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

Ciancia, who has been in custody since he was critically wounded in a shootout with police during the Nov. 1, 2013, attack, is expected to enter his guilty plea at an upcoming hearing. The court documents did not give a date.

Federal prosecutors said last year they intended to seek the death penalty for Ciancia if the case went to trial, citing what they said was his substantial planning and premeditation ahead of the crime and its impact on the victims.

However, federal prosecutors said in the agreement they would "not seek the death penalty against defendant."

Authorities say Ciancia walked into Terminal 3 of the nation's second-busiest airport carrying a semi-automatic rifle and opened fire, killing Gerardo Hernandez, 53, an agent for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as he stood at the entrance to a security checkpoint.

Hernandez was the first TSA officer killed in the line of duty since the agency was created following the Sept. 11, 2001, suicide hijacking attacks on the United States.

Federal authorities have said that Ciancia, from New Jersey, had set out to target TSA employees.

Investigators said in a criminal complaint they found a handwritten letter signed by Ciancia in his bag that addressed TSA officials, writing that he wanted to "instill fear in your traitorous minds."

Source: Reuters, Alex Dobuzinskis, Sept. 1, 2016

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