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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…

Georgia: Man convicted of killing cop to be executed this month

Gregory Paul Lawler
Gregory Paul Lawler
ATLANTA — A Georgia death row inmate convicted of killing an Atlanta police officer in 1997 is scheduled to be executed later this month.

Gregory Paul Lawler, 63, is scheduled to be put to death at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19 at the state prison in Jackson, Attorney General Sam Olens said in statement Wednesday. Lawler was convicted of murder in the shooting death of Atlanta police Officer John Sowa.

Authorities say Lawler also critically injured Officer Patricia Cocciolone.

Sowa and Cocciolone were trying to bring Lawler’s intoxicated girlfriend home after he left her in a parking lot following an argument, prosecutors said. The officers escorted her up the front walk of the town house and knocked on the door.

Lawler opened the door and yelled at the officers to get away from the door. Once his girlfriend was inside, he tried to shut the door on them. Sowa put his hand up to keep the door from shutting and said they just wanted to make sure the girlfriend lived there and that she would be safe.

Lawler had placed an AR-15 rifle next to the door when he saw the officers arrive, and he grabbed it and fired at them as they ran away, prosecutors said. Lawler fired 15 times and used bullets that can penetrate body armor.

Cocciolone sent a radio distress call and when other officers arrived they found Sowa lying hear the sidewalk and Cocciolone on the ground in the front yard. Both officers’ pistols were still in their holsters.

The responding officers got Lawler’s girlfriend out of the apartment and had a six-hour standoff with Lawler before a negotiator persuaded him to surrender.

Cocciolone was seriously injured, suffering gunshot wounds to her head, arm, pelvis and torso and had to undergo extensive physical therapy. Despite the fact that she was still relearning to read and write, she was the prosecution’s star witness at Lawler’s trial in 2000.

If carried out, Lawler’s execution would be the seventh in Georgia this year and the most in a calendar year in the state since the death penalty was reinstated nationwide in 1976. Georgia executed five inmates last year and in 1987.

Source: The Republic, October 5, 2016

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