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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…

Ohio Parole Board rejects mercy for Cincinnati killer claiming "homosexual panic"

Robert Van Hook
The Ohio Parole Board has recommended against mercy for a condemned killer whose attorneys cite a history of abuse and untreated mental illness.

The board ruled 8-1 Friday against the clemency request by death row inmate Robert Van Hook.

They say he experienced a "homosexual panic" of self-revulsion before killing a man he picked up at an Ohio bar.

Van Hook is scheduled to die July 18 for strangling and stabbing David Self in Cincinnati in 1985.

Prosecutors say courts have fairly considered Van Hook's childhood and mental health claims previously and there are no grounds for sparing him.

They also dismiss Van Hook's "homosexual panic" claim as nonsense, saying he made a practice of luring gay men to apartments to rob them.

The Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office also notes Van Hook has an extensive history of violence while incarcerated, including stabbing a fellow death row inmate in November.

The parole board heard arguments last week for and against Van Hook's clemency request.

Gov. John Kasich will have the final say.

Source: Associated Press, June 3, 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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