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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…

Japan: Death sentence finalized for man over 2015 murder of 2 children

Gallows trapdoor at Tokyo Detention Center
OSAKA -- The death sentence has been finalized for a 49-year-old man convicted of the 2015 murder of two junior high school students in western Japan after he withdrew his appeal, a court said Tuesday.

Koji Yamada retracted the appeal on May 18, according to the Osaka High Court.

During the first hearing of his trial at the Osaka District Court in November 2018, Yamada denied intending to kill Natsumi Hirata, 13, and pleaded not guilty over the death of 12-year-old Ryoto Hoshino, insisting he had died of an illness.

The district court sentenced him to death on Dec. 19, saying Yamada suffocated the two around Aug 13, 2015, in Osaka Prefecture or its vicinity.

It is unclear why Yamada retracted the appeal. 

He said in an interview with Kyodo News last December after the ruling was handed down that he had not expected to be subject to capital punishment.

"I'm shocked because I wasn't ready for the death penalty," Yamada said.

He also said in another interview in March "If I do not appeal the decision, everyone will think that I did it."

A senior official of the Osaka High Public Prosecutors Office said his decision was unexpected and the office had been preparing for an appeal.

On the evening of Aug 12, 2015, Hirata and Hoshino, who attended the same city-run junior high school, went missing after meeting up in the area where they lived.

Hirata's body was found the following day in a parking lot in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, while Hoshino's remains were found on Aug 21 in a mountainous area of Kashiwara, which Yamada had visited. 

He was arrested the same day.

Source: Japan Today, Staff, May 21, 2019


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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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