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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…

Ohio Supreme Court affirms death sentence of only woman on death row

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday reaffirmed the death sentence for the only woman on death row in the state.

The high court ruled 6-1 to uphold the death sentence for Donna Roberts, who was convicted in 2003 of conspiring with her lover to murder her ex-husband, Robert Fingerhut, and collect $550,000 on his life insurance policies.

Roberts, 73, is the only woman on death row in Ohio and is incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville.

The Supreme Court had previously twice vacated Roberts' sentence.

On the first appeal, the court affirmed Roberts' conviction for aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery but vacated the death sentence because the prosecutor was allowed to help draft the sentencing opinion.

On the second appeal, the court again vacated the death sentence because we concluded that the trial court did not reference in its opinion Roberts' statement that she had suffered head injuries, been raped as a child and experienced hallucinations and therefore didn't consider it during sentencing.

The trial judge had since retired and died, so a new judge sentenced Roberts to death for a third time.

On this appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed the sentence. Roberts helped boyfriend Nathaniel Jackson plan Fingerhut's murder in letters and phone calls while he was in prison for an unrelated charge. She bought a mask and gloves for Jackson and let him into the Howland Township home where Fingerhut was killed.

Jackson was also sentenced to death.

Writing for the majority, Justice Terrence O'Donnell said the death penalty was appropriate for Roberts due to her involvement in setting up the crime. O'Donnell disagreed with arguments that allowing a new judge to sentence Roberts was unconstitutional.

Justices Sharon Kennedy, Judith French, Patrick Fischer and Patrick DeWine joined the opinion. Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor concurred in judgment only. Justice William O'Neill concurred in part and dissented in part, citing his opposition to the death penalty in general.

Source: cleveland.com, Jackie Borchardt, May 30, 2017

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