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…

Will Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey grant clemency to death row inmates?

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has been in office less than three weeks and she will soon face a life and death decision.

As governor, Ivey has the power to commute the death sentence of an inmate to life or grant a reprieve to delay an execution. 

The next one is the execution of Tommy Arthur, which is set for May 25. 14 days later the state also plans to execute Robert Melson, the man convicted in the 1994 slayings of three Popeye's restaurant employees in Gadsden.

What will Ivey do?

"The Governor is aware of the scheduled execution," Ivey's press secretary, Eileen Jones, stated in an email to AL.com regarding Arthur's execution. "She realized the serious responsibility she has as Governor regarding an execution. She plans to meet with the appropriate authorities to thoroughly review before making a final decision," she stated.

Only once since executions were reinstated in Alabama in the early 1980s, after a nationwide pause over the constitutionality of the death penalty, has an Alabama governor commuted the sentence of a death row inmate. Former Gov. Fob James did it with Judith Ann Neelley.

Governors almost never stop executions

"Have they weighed on me? "Yes they have. Very much so. And they should. We are talking about a human life in each case." Gov. Robert Bentley on the decision to commute or allow a state execution to take place

Former Gov. Bob Riley in 2007 stayed 1 of Arthur's executions for 45 days so the state could put in place a new lethal injection protocol. Arthur also had stays of executions 6 other times by courts. Next month's execution is the 8th one set.

On Wednesday Ivey, after consulting with her legal counsel, denied a request by Arthur's attorney to have DNA testing performed on a wig that prosecutors say was worn by the person who killed Troy Wicker, the man Arthur was convicted of shooting to death in a 1982 murder for hire plot.

A forensic expert had testified at a hearing in 2009 that he couldn't find any genetic material to test for DNA comparison. Arthur has been convicted by 3 different juries.

Denial of the DNA testing wasn't the 1st time Ivey has faced a decision about Alabama's death penalty in the short time she has had in office.

In one of her 1st acts Ivey also signed a bill into law that does away with judicial override - the process that had allowed judges to ignore jury recommendations for life without parole sentences and instead impose death. 

Alabama had been the only state that still allowed judicial override after Florida and Delaware did away with it last year.

Source: al.com, April 30, 2017

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wobblywarrior said…
Florida did not entirely do away with judicial override ... innocent William "Tommy" Zeigler has been on Florida's death row for over 40 years because of malicious, prejudicial judicial override - and Governor Rick Scott knows it. Tommy has recently been denied additional DNA tests; the initial DNA tests confirmed his unwavering story and forced the prosecution to crime up with another fictional theory of the crime. Tommy was framed in Florida's 9th Judicial Circuit, where newly elected State Attorney Aramis Ayala has been under direct fire from Governor Scott for refusing to call for the death penalty in prosecutions.

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