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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…

UAE: Death penalty for Obaida killer upheld by Dubai appeals court

Dubai courts
The death sentence for the man who kidnapped, raped and murdered 8-year-old Obaida Al Aqrabawi has been upheld by Dubai Court of Appeal.

The boy's mother was in court on Sunday morning eager to hear the outcome of the killer's appeal. When it was announced at 11am, she let out a sigh of relief as female friends and family hugged her.

Nidal Ali, 48, from Jordan, walked into the courtroom after the judge gave the verdict. He asked the guards: "What, what?"

"Death, death," one guard answered.

Ali kidnapped Obaida, a Jordanian, on May 20 last year while the boy was playing outside his father's garage in a Sharjah industrial area. His body was found 2 days later in Al Warqa, Dubai.

Ali admitted to drinking excessive amounts of alcohol that day and strangling the boy, but denied sexual assault and kidnapping, saying the boy went willingly into his car.

A psychological evaluation ruled out any mental illness, as was claimed by the defence, and stated the killer was aware of his actions at the time of the murder.

The report said the patient "suffers from antisocial personality disorder and alcohol dependence, but it does not affect his perception nor does it hinder his ability to distinguish [right from wrong]. He is fully aware and responsible for his actions".

"The killer was admitted to Rashid Hospital's psychiatric section, where he was examined by a medical committee for a week," the report said. "He also underwent a personality test by psychiatrists and their clinical diagnosis was consistent with the committee's findings."

Results of a CT scan on the rapist were normal, as were the results of an electroencephalogram, which showed no signs of any epilepsy.

Ali was sentenced to death by Dubai Criminal Court on August 15. He was also found guilty of drinking alcohol without a licence and driving under the influence.

In response to statements from the defence, Dubai Attorney General Essam Al Humaidan tweeted he would not rest until the death penalty was brought against Ali.

The case will be referred to the Court of Cassation. If it is upheld it will be referred to the Dubai Ruler or the President to approve the execution and set a date.

Source: The National, January 22, 2017

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