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…

Another South Carolina Death Sentence Vacated

On Friday, May 25, 2017, the Office of the South Carolina Attorney General elected not to appeal a decision vacating the death sentence of Justice 360 client William Bell. 

In November 2016, Circuit Judge R. Lawton McIntosh found Mr. Bell intellectually disabled and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment. 

The decision of the Attorney General not to appeal ends Mr. Bell’s lengthy struggle against an unconstitutional death sentence.

Mr. Bell was originally sentenced to death in 1989 in Anderson County, South Carolina. 

Justice 360 became involved in Mr. Bell’s case in 2013. 

Justice 360 attorneys Emily Paavola and Lindsey Vann litigated Mr. Bell’s claim that he is intellectually disabled. 

The pair, along with Mark Olive, investigated Mr. Bell’s life and presented evidence of his intellectual disability at a hearing in April 2016. 

After the hearing, Judge McIntosh found Mr. Bell to be intellectually disabled, which makes him constitutionally ineligible to be executed. 

As a result, Mr. Bell’s death sentence was vacated and cannot be reimposed.

Justice 360 commends the Attorney General’s thoughtful consideration of this case and decision not to appeal. 

The decision ensures no further taxpayer money or resources are spent defending an unconstitutional death sentence.

Justice 360 thanks the many other lawyers, investigators, and paralegals who dedicated their time and resources towards Mr. Bell’s case all of which lead to this just conclusion.

Source: Justice 360, Mandy Medlock, June 7, 2017

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