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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…

U.S. Supreme Court denies Texans' appeals

2 Texans on death row for separate slayings in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have lost appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Without comment, the justices refused Monday to review the cases of 52-year-old Joseph Lave and 54-year-old Juan Segundo.

Lave was condemned to die in a 1992 robbery in which 2 teenagers were killed and almost decapitated. 

Segundo was arrested nearly 19 years after an 11-year-old Fort Worth girl was raped and strangled in her home.

Neither man has an execution date schedule.

Joseph Lave


In November 1992, 2 teenagers working at a Herman's World of Sporting Goods store in Richardson were killed in a brutal robbery.

Frederick Banzhaf and Justin Marquart, both 18, were bound and blindfolded with duct tape before their heads were bashed with a hammer and their throats were slashed nearly ear to ear.

Angie King, a store manager at the time, was also attacked and bound but she was able to free herself and called police.

Lave was 1 of 3 suspects and got the death sentence after King identified him as the killer based on his voice, which she said sounded like Donald Duck's.

Lave's execution date was halted in 2007 when the Dallas County district attorney's office realized evidence was not turned over to Lave's attorneys that included a 2nd polygraph test by a co-defendant.

Lave has remained in prison as his case made its way through the court system to the Supreme Court.

Juan Segundo


In August 1986, an 11-year-old Fort Worth girl was raped and strangled. Her 3 young cousins slept through the attack after the killer removed a window fan to quietly slip into the room.

Her family found a note written in a dictionary in Vanessa Villa's befroom.

"Mama, take me from this place. I'm scared," the note read, according to her uncle Juan Carranza.

Vanessa might have been assaulted before and Segundo threatened her to keep quiet, so she wrote the note, he said.

2 decades later, a national DNA database matched Segundo to her slaying. Attorneys claimed last year that Segundo's lawyers were deficient in the 2006 Tarrant County trial and failed to properly investigate and develop evidence that he was intellectually disabled, but courts have rejected that claim.

Source: Dallas Morning News, February 23, 2017

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