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…

North Carolina: Two Remain On Death Row Today

Robert F. Brewington, left, and Eddie L. Taylor
As talks are ongoing of possible prosecution of three suspects charged with a double murder in Harnett County, there are currently two men sitting on death row for crimes committed here.

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety Offender Public Information database, Robert F. Brewington and Eddie L. Taylor currently sit on death row at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Robert F. Brewington

On June 30, 1997, Robert F. Brewington was indicted on two counts of firstdegree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree arson and one count of first-degree arson.

The charges stemmed from the June 12, 1997, murders of his 82-year-old great-grandmother, Frances Brewington, and 8-yearold nephew, Brian Brewington. They were found burned to death in Ms. Brewington’s farmhouse near Dunn.

The two died after a fire was deliberately set by two co-defendants named in the case, Vera Lee, and friend, Michael McKeithan. Both were later found guilty of murder and arson charges and were sentenced to life without parole.

Mr. Brewington was found guilty on both conspiracy and both murder charges.

The trio had planned the deaths in order to receive insurance payments. The plan arose after Mr. Brewington and Ms. Lee were denied a loan for a new home.

Mr. Brewington, now 53, still sits in a cell on death row awaiting his execution.

Eddie L. Taylor

Eddie L. Taylor, 35, was given a death sentence on Jan. 12, 2004, following a conviction for his role in a robberygone- wrong in Bunnlevel. It was there, he and another man, Tyrone Crawley, attempted to rob Mitch’s Grocery in Bunnlevel at gunpoint.

During the robbery, store coowner Talmadge “Mitch” Joseph Faciane Jr. was gunned down after he attempted to thwart the robbery with a shotgun.

During the span of the crime, Mr. Crawley also received what would later prove to be fatal gunshot wounds.

Mr. Taylor, who had also been charged with kidnapping — which was dropped during the trial for lack of evidence — was convicted on first-degree murder and armed robbery charges.

He now sits in Central Prison awaiting his execution.

Both defendants had their cases reviewed by the Supreme Court of North Carolina and their convictions were ultimately upheld.

The two stand to be the fifth and sixth person to be executed after sentencing in Harnett County since 1910.

Here’s The Glitch

While the two men remain in Central Prison awaiting the carrying out of their sentences, there are several issues preventing the re-starting of executions in North Carolina.

The last person executed was Samuel R. Flippen who was convicted of killing his 2-year-old stepdaughter. That took place on Aug. 18, 2006. Since then there have been several roadblocks to capital punishment erected.

Some are based on the legalities involved in either the cases themselves or capital punishment in general. There about as many legal actions pending as there are inmates on death row.

With the repeal in 2013 of the Racial Justice Act, many more sitting on death row have filed legal action to have their sentences commuted to life.

The act, which was instituted in 2009, essentially prohibited seeking or imposing the death penalty on the basis of race.

With its repeal by Gov. Pat Mc-Crory, it opened the flood gates to litigation that has aided in stalling capital punishments in North Carolina.

Other obstacles involve drug makers being hesitant to provide the necessary Pentobarbital used in the procedures and public outcry.

There’s also the procedures for carrying out the executions that’s proving to be a difficulty for state corrections officials.

According to the state-mandated guidelines for an execution — which were revised along with the repeal of the Racial Justice Act in 2013 to require only the single drug — there must be a doctor present to administer the lethal injection.

The North Carolina Medical Board prohibits physicians to take a life and therein lies the problem.

Despite a clause included in the legislation protecting doctors from the medical board, physicians are still reluctant and fear they might not be protected if they move to another state.

So, until the legalities and other obstacles are overcome, any inmate sitting on death row may have a long wait.

Source: The Daily Record, Rick Curl, Sept. 6, 2017

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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde


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