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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…

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts donates another $100,000 to death penalty campaign

Nebraska: Gathering signatures against the repeal of the death penalty
Nebraska: Gathering signatures against the repeal of the death penalty
Gov. Pete Ricketts has given another $100,000 to a ballot campaign seeking to reinstate the death penalty in Nebraska after lawmakers abolished it over his veto last year, according to fundraising numbers released Tuesday.

The contribution brings the governor's total donation to $300,000 since Nebraskans for the Death Penalty launched a statewide ballot drive to overturn the Legislature's decision.

The campaign had raised more than $1.2 million as of last week, according to its filing with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission. A group working to keep the death penalty off the books collected more than twice as much, with nearly $2.7 million.

Ricketts' father, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, contributed $100,000 to Nebraskans for the Death Penalty last year but has not given since Jan. 1.

"The death penalty remains a critical tool to protect public safety, and this will help raise awareness that Nebraskans who support the death penalty will need to vote to repeal (the repeal law) to keep the death penalty," the governor said in a statement this week.

Nebraskans for the Death Penalty also reported another $100,000 donation from the Judicial Crisis Network, a Washington-based conservative group focused on the judiciary. Last year, the group contributed $300,000. The Denver-based group Citizens for a Sound Government gave another $50,000 on top of $125,000 it contributed last year.

The death penalty opposition group Retain a Just Nebraska reported donations from more than 2,600 people, including $10,000 from the late Democratic philanthropist Dick Holland and $500 from actress Susan Sarandon.

"After blanketing the state the past few months, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on statewide television, radio and digital advertising, we are confident Nebraskans are understanding the same issues their elected representatives did when they voted to end a failed and costly government program," said Dan Parsons, spokesman for Retain a Just Nebraska.

Nebraska hasn't executed an inmate since Robert Williams was killed in the electric chair in 1997. The state has never carried one out using its current lethal injection protocol. Opponents argue that the punishment wastes tax dollars because of seemingly endless legal and logistical challenges.

Supporters say the punishment is used judiciously and can be restored once state officials obtain the necessary drugs. State officials have floated other options, such as changing the state's three-drug protocol to gain access to drugs that are easier to obtain.

Ricketts announced last year that his administration would not move forward with any execution until voters have decided whether to overturn the Legislature's decision and reinstate the death penalty. Nebraska has 10 men on death row.

Source: Lincoln Journal Star, October 12, 2016

“We will have the resources to finish strong and deliver our messages” - Retain a Just Nebraska


Lincoln, NE - Retain a Just Nebraska, the ballot committee urging voters to retain the vote of the Legislature that ended Nebraska’s death penalty, today released the most recent financial disclosure statement for the period January 1 to October 4, 2016.

According to Dan Parsons, spokesperson for Retain, the report shows continued strong support with almost 3,000 donors contributing nearly $2 million. 2,620 Nebraskans have supported this effort, many with small, repeated donations.

“After blanketing the state the past few months, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on statewide television, radio, and digital advertising, we are confident Nebraskans are understanding the same issues their elected representatives did when they voted to end a failed and costly government program - the death penalty is a false promise to the family members of murder victims, and taxpayers, and that life in prison is a smart and cost-effective alternative,” Parsons said.

“Our bipartisan supporters - Republicans, Democrats, and independents - are talking to voters in coffee shops, places of worship, front porches, and kitchen tables across Nebraska.”

“Although we understand that the pro-death penalty campaign will have enormous resources available in the closing weeks, our donors have signaled they will continue investing in a historic opportunity to make sure we will never risk the execution of an innocent person.”

“We will have the resources to finish strong and deliver our messages,” Parsons said.

Source: Retain a Just Nebraska, October 11, 2016

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