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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…

13 Oklahoma death row inmates now eligible for execution

Oklahoma's death chamber
Oklahoma's death chamber
WASHINGTON — James Chandler Ryder, convicted of killing a woman and her son over some personal belongings in 1999, is now the 13th Oklahoma death row inmate who has exhausted appeals and is eligible for an execution date.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined, without comment, to review Ryder's appeal. It was the fifth time since the high court's new term began in October that justices have rejected the final appeal in an Oklahoma capital case.

In such instances, the Oklahoma attorney general typically moves quickly to request an execution date from the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

But problems with lethal injections in Oklahoma have led to a pause in executions while the state Department of Corrections reviews the process.

The last execution in Oklahoma was in January 2015. And executions won't resume immediately after the Corrections Department decides it is ready. 

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has said he would wait at least 150 days after the review is complete before requesting execution dates.

Earlier this month, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question that gives state constitutional protection to the death penalty — and death sentences already handed down — even if a particular execution method is ruled to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court has never ruled against a method and has twice upheld lethal injection protocols, including Oklahoma's in 2015.

Ryder, who is now 54, was convicted of killing Daisy Hallum and her adult son, Sam Hallum, in Pittsburg County in a dispute over possessions Ryder had been storing with them. Ryder received the death penalty for killing Daisy Hallum and life without parole for killing Sam Hallum.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the death sentence in January.

Source: NewsOK, Chris Casteel, November 30, 2016

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