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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…

13 percent of Texas death row inmates wait 25 years or more for execution

Raymond Riles
Raymond Riles, on Texas death row since February 1976
For some Texas death row inmates, being condemned can feel like a life sentence.

Roughly 13 percent (30 of 238) of the inmates awaiting execution in the Lone Star State have been on death row for 25 years or more.

That length of stay is nearly a decade above the national average time awaiting execution of 15 years and nine months.

The longest resident of death row in Texas, Raymond Riles, has been sitting in solitary confinement (except for doctor visits and court appearances) since February 1976.

Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, 41 inmates on death row have died either of natural causes or suicide while awaiting execution.

This is in a state that has executed 23 people in the last three years and isn't shy about carrying out death sentences.

But, the state is also suing the federal government to get a hold of a shipment of the lethal injection drug sodium thiopental.

While that is tied up in court, there's little the state can do if it runs out of the current supply of the sedative, prolonging the time on death row for the inmates and the wait for the victim's families.


Source: Houston Chronicle, Brett Barrouquere, May 3, 2017

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