Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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…

Idaho: Eight Death Row Inmates Cost Taxpayers Millions

BOISE – Inside the Old Idaho State Penitentiary, you can tour the state’s former death row.

“The Old Pen executed a total of 10 inmates, one was a federal execution and none of them were state executions,” Meghan Anderson, interpretive specialist for the Old Idaho State Penitentiary, said.

Idaho only hanged one man in their gallows before a Supreme Court decision banned executions in the country.

Raymond Allen Snowden was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering a woman in Garden City in 1956.

“His body didn’t drop with the proper weight, so he ended up having to strangle, and it took him about 15 minutes to die,” Anderson said.

Snowden only sat in his cell for about a year before his execution in 1957, a stark contrast to the amount of time Idaho’s eight remaining death row inmates have been awaiting their executions.

“The average length of time between a sentence and an execution is about 16 years,” College of Western Idaho criminal justice professor Stephanie Breach said. “However, there are some states that execute a lot more quickly, so they throw the numbers off.”

In Idaho, the last two executed inmates waited on death row for about 30 years each.

Richard Albert Leavitt was executed in 2012.

Leavitt is one of only three to be executed in the state since the death penalty was officially reinstated in 1976. In comparison, in the time Idaho has put three people to death, Texas has executed more than 500.

“Since they are doing executions a lot, some of the research shows that they are equipped to continually be doing executions,” Breach said.

Keeping inmates on death row is more expensive than letting them serve out a life sentence.

“It’s 44 times more for the appeals on a death penalty case versus a life in prison case,” Breach said.

Taxpayers are footing the bill.

“Some studies show that, on average, it costs $3 million for a death penalty case from the time that the case starts until the time of execution,” Breach said.

Nationwide, that adds up to $25 billion in taxpayer money spent on death row cases since 1976.

Breach said that number does not include the court costs of those who die in prison before their execution.

“We’re paying those costs,” Breach said. “Our taxes are paying the appeals. We’re paying the corrections budget. … It’s very expensive.”

Source: East Idaho News, KIVI (CNN), Marissa Morrison, May 5, 2017

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