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Did Texas execute an innocent man? Film revisits a haunting question.

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Texans will have an opportunity to revisit a question that should haunt anyone who believes in the integrity of our criminal justice system: Did our state execute an innocent man? 
The new film “Trial by Fire” tells the true story of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was sentenced to death for setting a fire to his home in Corsicana that killed his three young daughters in 1991. The film is based on an investigative story by David Grann that appeared in the New Yorker in 2009, five years after Willingham was executed over his vociferous protestations of innocence.
In my experience of serving 8 years on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and 4 years as a state district judge in Travis County, the Willingham case stands out to me for many of the same reasons it stood out to filmmaker Edward Zwick, who calls it a veritable catalogue of everything that’s wrong with the criminal justice system and, especially, the death penalty. False testimony, junk science, a jailhouse informant, and ineffe…

UAE: Former Gulf News editor sentenced to 10 years for killing wife, escapes death penalty

Dubai courts
The family of the deceased expressed disappointment at the verdict, and hope the sentence is changed on appeal

A Dubai court has sentenced Gulf News’s former editor-at-large to 10 years in prison for killing his wife with a hammer.

Francis Matthew, 61, was accused of fatally hitting his wife, Jane, twice on the head with a hammer at their home in Jumeirah on July 3 last year, killing her intentionally. He had pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder, and his lawyer Ali Al Shamsi had urged the court to amend the charge to one of physical assault that led to the victim’s death.

It was unclear under which charge the court found Matthew guilty, but he had originally faced the death penalty. Now he must serve 10 years in jail, followed by deportation.

The incident had taken place following an altercation and the home of Matthew and his wife in Umm Suqeim. Dubai Police said they were called to the home at 5.45pm On July 4, where they found Matthew’s 62-year-old wife of more than 30 years dead in bed with a severe head wound.

In court, police testified that Matthew initially claimed that he had found his wife dead following a robbery, but later confessed, telling police that his wife had grown angry with him after he told her they were in debt and needed to move to a smaller home. Matthew said his wife had provoked him, calling him a “loser” and telling him it was his responsibility to provide them with money, prompting him to take a hammer from the kitchen, follow his wife to the bedroom, and hit her twice on the head while she was lying in bed.

The court heard the testimonies of  four Emirati police officers, a Sri Lankan gardener and an Egyptian forensic expert before making its judgement, as well as listening to good character testimonies from Matthew’s son, brother and sister.

Jane Matthew’s family were in court for the ruling, and her brother Peter Manning issued a statement on their behalf expressing disappointment in the verdict, adding that they “hope that this sentence is changed on appeal”.

The court ruling on Sunday is subject to appeal within a 15-day period.

Source: Gulf Business, March 25, 2018


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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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