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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…

Texas AG sues FDA for delaying import of death penalty drug

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Tuesday his office has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for delaying the state’s importation of a drug used in capital punishment.

The lawsuit argues the FDA’s claimed legal grounds for refusing the drugs’ entry into the United States are invalid, citing an FDA exemption for law enforcement purposes.

Thiopental sodium, also known as Sodium thiopental, is part of the three-drug cocktail used in lethal injections.

In its December newsletter, the Council of State Governments said, while Texas has 317 inmates on death row, it only has enough of a key lethal injection drug to execute two of them, stemming from a nationwide shortage of the drug.

The Attorney General’s Office is asking the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas to declare the FDA’s delay unlawful and compel the agency to make a final decision on the admissibility of the drug, which was detained by the FDA 17 months ago.

“There are only two reasons why the FDA would take 17 months to make a final decision on Texas’ importation of thiopental sodium: gross incompetence or willful obstruction,” said Attorney General Paxton. “The FDA has an obligation to fulfill its responsibilities faithfully and in a timely manner. My office will not allow the FDA to sit on its hands and thereby impair Texas’ responsibility to carry out its law enforcement duties.”

In April 2016, the FDA blocked an appeal to bring in Sodium thiopental from India. Experts in the FDA said there is not a legal use for the drug in the U.S.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice previously used the drug as part of a three-drug cocktail for executions. Since 2012, Texas has used a large dose of a single powerful sedative to carry out executions.

The maker of the drug made it off limits to sell to the government for execution purposes. Texas has been using compounding pharmacies to make the drugs needed for executions..

Source: KXAN, Andy Jechow, January 3, 2017

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