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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: Top court upholds death penalty for woman for killing 3 men

Kanae Kijima
Kanae Kijima
The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the death sentence given to a 42-year-old woman for killing 3 men she met through an online dating service in the Tokyo area in 2009.

Although Kanae Kijima had pleaded not guilty to the murders, the top court ruled she killed all 3 -- Takao Terada 53, Kenzo Ando, 80, and Yoshiyuki Oide, 41 -- between January and August of 2009.

Lower courts recognized Kijima, who has changed her surname to Doi while on death row, as the perpetrator, mainly based on circumstantial evidence, while rejecting the defense counsel's argument that the victims may have committed suicide or died by accident. 

The cause of death in each case was carbon monoxide poisoning.

In March 2012, the Saitama District Court found her guilty of murder and sentenced her to death as demanded by the prosecution, saying she bought coal briquettes and sleeping pills, prepared stoves and then stayed with each man until just before he died.

In March 2014, the Tokyo High Court upheld the death sentence, saying she committed the crimes to maintain a luxurious lifestyle.

Source: The Mainichi, April 14, 2017


Death penalty set for Japan’s ‘Black Widow’


A Japanese woman nicknamed the “Black Widow” for murdering a trio of boyfriends will now face the executioner herself.

Japan’s Supreme Court dismissed Kanae Kijima’s final appeal to overturn her conviction on Friday, setting up her death by hanging, according to reports.

Kijima was convicted of killing three former lovers within a span of eight months in 2009 by poisoning them with carbon monoxide.

She burned charcoal briquettes after plying them with sleeping pills.

She pleaded not guilty to the charges, claiming that the men likely committed suicide or died by accident, according to Kyodo news service.

But, in 2012, Saitama District Court convicted her of murder and sentenced her to death.

The death sentence was upheld two years later by Tokyo High Court, which ruled Kijima committed the crimes to maintain her lavish lifestyle.

Prosecutors, who relied on circumstantial evidence, said she murdered the men so she wouldn’t have to pay back the money they gave her, the BBC reported.

Kijima met all three men — Takao Terada, 53; Kenzo Ando, 80; and Yoshiyuki Oide, 41 — in the Tokyo area through an online dating service and killed them between January and August 2009.

She’s married twice since getting caught.

Japan’s death penalty — which is exclusively carried out by hanging — is widely supported by the public in Japan. It can take years to carry out.

Source: New York Post, Lia Eustachewich, April 14, 2017

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