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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: Man sentenced to death for killing 5 neighbors on Awaji Island

Gallows trap door, Tokyo Detention Center, Japan
Gallows trap door, Tokyo Detention Center, Japan
KOBE — A court sentenced a 42-year-old man to death Wednesday for killing five people on Awaji Island in western Japan in 2015.

The defendant Tatsuhiko Hirano’s mental condition was “normal” when he carried out the killings, Presiding Judge Hidenori Nagai said in handing down the ruling at the Kobe District Court. 

Hirano’s lawyers immediately appealed the ruling.

The focus of the trial was whether Hirano was mentally competent enough to be held responsible for his actions. He had argued during the trial that the case was a “false accusation plotted by ‘operatives’ who destroyed my brain and forced me to commit the murders.”

His lawyers, who had sought acquittal or a lesser punishment, had said he was unable to make normal decisions because of a psychotropic drug he had been taking.

Hirano was accused of fatally stabbing five neighbors with a knife in two separate homes in Sumoto, Hyogo Prefecture, on March 9, 2015. 

The victims were three women and two men aged between 59 and 84.

He was committed to hospital in 2005 and 2010 after being judged by local authorities to be a danger to the public due to mental illness.

The prosecutors, in seeking capital punishment, highlighted the fact that “he took the lives of five people who did nothing wrong.”

Pointing to the brutality of the case and the numerous stab wounds on the victims, they said the influence of the psychotropic drug the defendant had been using for a long time was “limited.”

Source: Japan Today, March 23, 2017

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