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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…

Victim’s family lashes failure to seek death for accused Jakarta café poisoner

Re-enactment at Oliver Café in Jakarta
Re-enactment at Oliver Café in Jakarta, where the victim died after sipping
an iced coffee her friend had bought for her.
The family of Wayan Mirna ­Salihin, the former Sydney design student allegedly poisoned at a Jakarta cafe in January, has ­lambasted the 20-year jail sentence sought by prosecutors saying the Indonesian-Australian woman accused of her murder ­deserved the death penalty.

Prosecutors late on Wednesday demanded that the Central Jakarta District Court find Australian permanent resident Jessica Kumala Wongso, 27, guilty of premeditated murder.

Salihin, who met Ms Wongso while studying at Billie Blue College in Sydney, died on ­January 6 after sipping an iced coffee her friend had bought for her.

“It can be concluded that the defendant has laced with cyanide the coffee drunk by the victim when the coffee was in the defendant’s possession,” prosecutor ­Melanie Wuwung told the court.

Although the maximum ­sentence for premeditated murder is the death penalty, Indonesia has promised it would be taken off the table after requesting assistance from the Australian Federal Police in the case.

Ministerial approval is a necessary condition for Australian assistance in investigating crimes that could lead to the death ­penalty, after the AFP tip-off that ultimately led to the ­execution last year of Bali Nine ringleaders ­Andrew Chan and Myuran ­Sukumaran.

Lead prosecutor Ardito Mu­wardi said a 20-year-prison sentence fitted the crime.

“A sentence demand depends on the prosecution’s subjectivity. Subjectively, we feel that 20 years is enough,” Mr Muwardi told television station MetroTV.

Salihin’s widower, Arief Sumarko, was furious.

“We were newlyweds. We were in love. She is my closest friend. We were going to start a family. But she was taken from me,” Mr ­Sumarko told The Australian.

“How can I accept? She doesn’t deserve this. We all know who killed Mirna. I hope the judges sentence Wongso as severely as ­legally possible.”

Ms Wongso’s lawyer, Otto Hasi­buan, said the defendant “does not deserve a day in jail”.

Mr Hasibuan highlighted testimonies by Australian toxicologists led by Beng Beng Ong, who ­claimed there was insufficient ­evidence to conclude that Salihin died of cyanide poisoning. saying that “death of natural causes cannot be ruled out”.

Prosecutors told the three judges to ignore the defence experts’ because their credibility and integrity were questionable.

The defence is scheduled to provide a counter argument next week.

Source: The Australian, October 7, 2016

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