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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…

Arkansas executes Jack Harold Jones and Marcel Willilams

Jack Harold Jones
Jack Harold Jones
Jack Harold Jones was put to death by the state of Arkansas Monday night by way of lethal injection.

Authorities began administering the execution drugs at 7:06 p.m. and Jones was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m., according to the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Asked if he had any last words, Jones said the following:

"Well, I just want to let the James family and Lacey [know] how sorry I am. I can't believe I did something to her. I tried to be respectful from the time I took and become a better person. I hope I did better. I hope over time you could learn who I really am and I am not a monster. There was a reason why those things happened that day. I am so sorry Lacey, try to understand I love you like my child."

Jones also gave a written statement to his attorney to read:

"I want people to know that when I came to prison I made up my mind that I would be a better person when I left than when I came in. I had no doubt in my mind that I would make every effort to do this. I'd like to think that I've accomplished this. I made every effort to be a good person - I practiced Buddhism and studied physics. I met the right people and did the right things. There are no words that would fully express my remorse for the pain that I caused."

Jones, 52, was convicted and sentenced to death in the 1995 rape and murder of 34-year-old Mary Phillips at her accounting office in Bald Knob. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Phillips' 11-year-old daughter Lacy.

Following the execution, Lacy told the media, "I'm glad it's done."

The Supreme Court of the United States denied two requests for a stay for Jones, allowing for the execution to proceed.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge released a statement following the execution:

"This evening, Lacey Phillips Manor and Darla Phillips Jones have seen justice for the brutal rape and murder of their mother, Mary Phillips. Mary was performing her job as a bookkeeper in Bald Knob on June 6, 1995, when she was strangled to death with a coffee pot cord while her 11-year-old daughter Lacey clung to life a few feet away after being choked and beaten. The Phillips family has waited far too long to see justice carried out, and I pray they find peace tonight."

Jones is the second Arkansas death row inmate to be executed in less than a week.

Jones becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death in Arkansas this year and the 29th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in
1990.

Jones becomes the 8th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1450th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Arkansas death row inmate Marcel Williams executed


Marcel Williams
Marcel Williams
Marcel Williams was the second death row inmate to be executed by the state of Arkansas Monday night.

Williams was put to death by way of lethal injection. The drugs were administered at 10:16 p.m. and Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m.

Marcel Williams did not have any last words.

Williams was convicted of killing Stacy Rae Errickson, a 23-year-old mother of 2, in Jacksonville in 1994.

Errickson's family declined to comment immediately following the execution.

Williams becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Arkansas and the 30th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990.

Williams becomes the 9th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1451st overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Sources: KATV news & Rick Halperin, April 25, 2017


Arkansas executions: 'I was watching him breathe heavily and arch his back'


Arkansas on Monday carried out the first double execution in the US in 16 years. Jacob Rosenberg witnessed the murderer Marcel Williams being put to death

At 9.34pm we entered the execution chamber. I passed through a door with a large sign on its front showing two letters, “EC”, and took a seat among a few rows of chairs that faced four large rectangular windows. Some lights were on, but it was mostly dim. A black curtain was drawn behind the windows in front of us.

Behind that curtain, strapped to a gurney in an even smaller room, was Marcel Williams.

In Arkansas, we do not get to see the placement of the IV for lethal injection. So, from the time we entered until the curtain opened, I saw nothing. We just stared forward at those windows, waiting for them to reveal Williams, 46, who was sent to death row for the 1994 rape and killing of 22-year-old Stacy Errickson, whom he kidnapped from a gas station.

We had done this earlier in the night, when a last-minute stay had us waiting in the chamber for over an hour. During that time, we later learned, Williams had been strapped down on the gurney. Now, as then, with the stay lifted, I simply looked at the black curtain, knowing almost nothing about what was happening to the prisoner.

The curtain created a reflection of the room behind me, like a mirror. I could see other witnesses, and myself, fidget.

At 10.16pm, after 32 minutes of IV placement, the curtain opened.

Light from fluorescent bulbs cast a strange yellow glow in the room in front. Marcel Williams’s eyes looked right up at the ceiling. He was on a gurney, tied down. His head was locked in place and the right side of his body was facing us, the viewers. He said no final words.

At this point, the first lethal injection drug – the controversial sedative midazolam, whose expiration date at the end of this month has prompted Arkansas’s unprecedented wave of judicial killings – was supposed to be administered. No one announced that a drug was being given . The process simply moved along. I watched and tried to follow.

His eyes began to droop and eventually closed (the right one lingered slightly open throughout). His breaths became deep and heavy. His back arched off the gurney as he sucked in air.

I could not count the number of times his body moved in such a way, rising off the gurney.

Procedure dictates that five minutes after the introduction of midazolam there should be no movements. But, at 10.21pm, Williams was still breathing heavily and moving. The man in the room checked his pulse and touched his eyes and said something. (The audio was cut off for us.)

At this point, it is likely another dose of midazolam was given. I cannot be sure it was administered. I was watching him breathe heavily and arch his back and then the breathing began to shallow out. By 10.24pm, Williams looked completely still.

➤⏮Click here to read the full article

Source: The Guardian, Jacob Rosenberg, April 25, 2017

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