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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…

Japan: Death-row inmate convicted of killing 4 in 1993 dies of illness

Gallows trap door, Tokyo Detention Center
Gallows trap door, Tokyo Detention Center
TOKYO — Gen Sekine, a former pet breeder on death row for killing four people in Saitama Prefecture in 1993, died Monday while in detention, a person familiar with his condition said.

The 75-year-old inmate—who was convicted of conspiring with his former wife Hiroko Kazama to kill three people in a financial dispute stemming from his dog breeding business—is believed to have died of an illness, according to the source. Kazama, 60, is also on death row.

Sekine, who was also convicted of a separate killing the same year, died at the Tokyo Detention House on Monday morning. He had collapsed there in November last year, according to the source.

In 1993, he murdered a 39-year-old company employee, a senior member of a crime syndicate and the man’s driver by making them swallow poison capsules. He then dismembered their bodies before incinerating and abandoning the remains, according to a court ruling.

In the separate case, Sekine murdered a 54-year-old woman after selling dogs of foreign origin to her in a scam.

Sekine and Kazama were initially arrested in January 1995. In March 2001, a district court in Saitama Prefecture sentenced them to death for committing, in the words of its presiding judge, “cruelly ruthless and extremely heinous crimes.”

The Tokyo High Court rejected the pair’s appeal in July 2005, and the Supreme Court upheld the decision in June 2009.

Source: Japan Today, March 28, 2017


Murder suspect extradited from Argentina


TOKYO — A 44-year-old Japanese man who has been on the international wanted list in connection with the murder of a Chinese woman in Japan in 2010 has been arrested after he was extradited from Argentina, police said.

The suspect, Tomoyasu Takiya, was arrested upon his arrival at Tokyo’s Haneda airport late Friday night, Fuji TV reported. 

Police said he has initially been charged with stealing a cash card belonging to the Chinese woman, Shi Jieying, who was found strangled to death in her apartment in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, in August of 2010.

Police said convenience store surveillance camera footage showed Takiya, who has admitted he knew the victim, using her cash card to withdraw 10,000 yen from the store’s ATM. 

He left Japan before the victim’s body was discovered and his whereabouts remained a mystery until he was seen in Buenos Aires earlier this month.

Police said they expect to upgrade the charge to murder after interrogating Takiya.

Source: Japan Today, March 26, 2017

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