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Thread: TX - Cameron Willingham ... Wrongfully Executed, 2004

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    TX - Cameron Willingham ... Wrongfully Executed, 2004

    "Just before Willingham received the lethal injection, he was asked if he had any last words. He said, 'The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for twelve years for something I did not do. From Godís dust I came and to dust I will return, so the Earth shall become my throne.' Ē

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2...?currentPage=1

    I'm busy, but I'm not so busy that I don't have a few moments to post an article that everyone should read.

    (When I have time, I usually post wrongful convictions in the "Crimes In The News" forum on Websleuths. I post such articles, because I believe that no one else here will. However, this article takes the next step and highlights the final sword of injustice. Please don't stop reading the article simply because it's long; I assure you the read will be worth your time.)

    God bless.
    It's not what a man knows that makes him a fool, it's what he does know that ain't so. .... Josh Billings


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    Thank you for posting this, Wudge. I read the whole thing. This is so unbelievably sad. This is exactly why I am against the death penalty.






    All kinds of hugs!

    ROSIE



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    I am against the DP for many reasons, which this is one (although I have moral struggles when it comes to crimes against kids yet still my heart and logical mind know the DP is not the answer....)

    so I thank you for posting this article.

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    Thank you for posting this. This is a horrible testament to our justice system.
    I hopefully think that the members of this board are interested in justice, and would welcome these postings. Hope I am not wrong.

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    I am pro-DP, but do recognize horrible injustices exist.

    That being said, I'm not really convinced by this case. I'm not convinced he DID do it, either, but I still have questions regarding the evidence. Yes, this may have happened in this instance and that might have happened in another, but this was a perfect storm of both evidence and witnesses conspiring together to convict this man. It's either the most horrible of wrongful convictions, or this guy is getting vindicated after death for a crime he DID commit. One expert is saying he didn't do it, while another said he did. At best, they offset.

    Either way, he shouldn't be dead right now.

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    This sort of thing is why I am anti DP.
    Thank you for posting this

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    I just finished and I'm sitting here crying. I too do not believe in the DP, mainly to me it's legalized murder. Even though some truly deserve it...child murders/abusers.
    God is Great Beer is Good And People are Crazy

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    Horrible! This, along with all the other inmates found not guilty due to improved DNA testing really makes me sad to know there are those doing time and even being killed for crimes they didn't commit.
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    I read all 17 pages. This story is so sad. This was a miscarriage of justice. Something needs to be done about the appeals system. Someone should've read over the reports. The amount of money spent on the appeals process it should be handled correctly.

    I am pro DP! I do believe that people who commit crimes such as the terrible things that were done to Channon Christian and her boyfirend should pay with their life.

    I do not believe the DP should be stopped. I do believe they need to fix the appeals process for those who are innocent.

    I know everyone who posted above disagrees with me, but this is my opinion.

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    A Black man in my town was wrongfully convicted of rape. All he did was flirt (supposedly) with an undercover cop because there were serial rapes going on near the university and he was mistakenly identified by only one victim. Rapes before he got to town and rapes after he was arrested, yet he still was convicted. I never remember hearing of serial rapes though, we must not have been told. Anyway, he died of an asthma attack in prison years after dna was available and the real rapist had confessed. It's so sad and totally disgusting to see someone die for a crime they did not do.

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    Wow...all 17 pages read. Tragic and sad indeed. Thanks for posting Wudge.

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    I read about 8 or so pages ....was there proof he was wrongfully excuted in the end? The fridge being in the way, him moving his car....I am not so sure....

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    Quote Originally Posted by lillygator View Post
    I read about 8 or so pages ....was there proof he was wrongfully excuted in the end? The fridge being in the way, him moving his car....I am not so sure....
    It is worth it to keep reading.

    I thought the same thing, lets cut to the chase and explain to me why the forensics are wrong. Eye witness and opinions of character aren't going to sway me one way or another.

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    Thanks for sharing this with us wudge.

    It's important to be reminded that the system is far from perfect, and the focus needs to be on finding justice for victims, not allowing suspects to be used as pawns for political advancement ,scoring points for so-called experts with overblown egos, and any other personal agendas.

    Hope he is playing with his babies now in rolling fields dotted with wildflowers, and that his family has found peace in having his name cleared by true professionals who actually gave a damn.

    Its truely frightening how many innocent people are imprisoned, let alone sent to their death. Which is why I always try really hard to never rush to judement in any case...
    There seems to be a mentality where as long as someone is imprisoned for a crime, thats all that matters-but we need to get the RIGHT people behind bars to protect society.
    This man was murdered by the state- and the people who were involved in his murder will never spend a day behind bars.
    Where is the justice in that?


    JMO

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    so was there evidence to him being innocent?

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    Thanks Wudge! This is also one of the several reasons I am against the death penalty in every single case. every single case. every single case.

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    This is what is called agenda journalism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by impatientredhead View Post
    It is worth it to keep reading.

    I thought the same thing, lets cut to the chase and explain to me why the forensics are wrong. Eye witness and opinions of character aren't going to sway me one way or another.
    I thought the same thing, but I think I was one of the few unconvinced by the deconstruction of the physical evidence. The expert, one expert, basically cited one case where similar patterns appeared without an accelerant being used. We're basically expected to believe that the other experts were rogue arson cowboys who jumped to a conclusion, when they had been doing this for years and years as well. It's not news that arson investigation isn't an exact science and to me what the article proved is that this guy might be innocent. It didn't prove that he was.

    That's why I think he should still be alive, but I didn't go to sleep last night knowing that the system executed an innocent man. I think we may have, and that's tragic, but everywhere I go people are responding to this article with tears and recrimination against the DP, and I guess I'm missing the dagger. The author and the arson expert want us to believe that this perfect storm of fake evidence and statements of lies lined up in perfect order to convict this man. They do a serviceable job explaining a lot of it away, but the thing with this evidence is that if THEY'RE wrong about just one of those things--Willingham was still very likely guilty. What I see are plausible explanations for most of the evidence, not all. What I don't see is a lot of exculpatory evidence. Burns on the hands and face as he tried to fumble through the smoke and flames for his daughters. I felt the explanation for the lack of burns on his feet a reach. Yes, it COULD have happened the way they said, but it's still conjecture.

    I'd love to see a chart where ALL the initial investigation's evidence is lined up apples-to-apples with with statements and evidence this woman has compiled. This article is written to invoke emotion by someone who is anti-DP. I want to read docs from the original case, because this is more storytelling than a factual representation of a fire investigation, intentionally set or not. She does a good job, don't get me wrong, but when you write the whole first half about the evidence pointing to him, and the whole second half refuting it, it's hard to keep track of what was explained away. Plausibility v. possibility is also at play here.
    Last edited by MomofBoys; 09-10-2009 at 11:58 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Albert18 View Post
    This is what is called agenda journalism.
    A reverse example is the lack of media coverage of the heinous murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom and the on-going (and thus far disappointing imo) DP trials of their murderers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MomofBoys View Post
    I thought the same thing, but I think I was one of the few unconvinced by the deconstruction of the physical evidence. The expert, one expert, basically cited one case where similar patterns appeared without an accelerant being used. We're basically expected to believe that the other experts were rogue arson cowboys who jumped to a conclusion, when they had been doing this for years and years as well. It's not news that arson investigation isn't an exact science and to me what the article proved is that this guy might be innocent. It didn't prove that he was.

    That's why I think he should still be alive, but I didn't go to sleep last night knowing that the system executed an innocent man. I think we may have, and that's tragic, but everywhere I go people are responding to this article with tears and recrimination against the DP, and I guess I'm missing the dagger. The author and the arson expert want us to believe that this perfect storm of fake evidence and statements of lies lined up in perfect order to convict this man. They do a serviceable job explaining a lot of it away, but the thing with this evidence is that if THEY'RE wrong about just one of those things--Willingham was still very likely guilty. What I see are plausible explanations for most of the evidence, not all. What I don't see is a lot of exculpatory evidence. Burns on the hands and face as he tried to fumble through the smoke and flames for his daughters. I felt the explanation for the lack of burns on his feet a reach. Yes, it COULD have happened the way they said, but it's still conjecture.

    I'd love to see a chart where ALL the initial investigation's evidence is lined up apples-to-apples with with statements and evidence this woman has compiled. This article is written to invoke emotion by someone who is anti-DP. I want to read docs from the original case, because this is more storytelling than a factual representation of a fire investigation, intentionally set or not. She does a good job, don't get me wrong, but when you write the whole first half about the evidence pointing to him, and the whole second half refuting it, it's hard to keep track of what was explained away. Plausibility v. possibility is also at play here.
    I understand where you are coming from in regards to the differing interpretations of the evidence, but the initial fire investigator claims that he found evidence of arson in just about every fire he'd investigated---that worries me. Alot. Also, the fire forensic expert relied on science, not more subjective interpretation of evidence. If there were only 1 chance in a million that those markings were not caused by an accelerant being poured throughout the house, then this man should not have been put to death. I had trouble sleeping last night, too.

    I also am just boggled that no one even bothered to read the forensic expert's report. How can you send a man to death without even scanning the evidence that might exonerate him?

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    Also, the fire forensic expert relied on science, not more subjective interpretation of evidence.
    Arson investigation almost requires some subjectivity, though. That's why these cases are so difficult. Pure science almost never provides all the answers in a fire because there are so many variables. In fact, that's sort of why their "experiment" bothered me. You're looking for duplication in a situation where there are no duplicates. Fires are almost like snowflakes, and if you lined up every fire investigation report, I'm sure you'll find situations mirrored in the experiment that were indeed the result of arson.

    As I said in my original post, this guy deserved a second look and I think there were absolutely red flags when it came to the review board, etc. But I'm sure the original investigators probably value their "science" too, and I'm not sure how one expert outweighs everyone that looked at this case before him. I'd love to read a more objective summary of this case. The article was written with a purpose, and because of that I can't quite trust it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MomofBoys View Post
    I am pro-DP, but do recognize horrible injustices exist.
    Same here, that's why I only support DP when the evidence is unquestionable and I do mean unquestionable, not "reasonable doubt".

    That being said, I'm not really convinced by this case. I'm not convinced he DID do it, either, but I still have questions regarding the evidence.
    I agree, it's not precisely what one could call a slam dunk case. The involvement of a prison informant -which are notoriously unreliable- and the overconfident cockiness of one of the arson investigators (Vasquez) make me feel uncomfortable.

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    Some people do not "get it". In criminal cases, the standard for conviction is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and in capital cases, there should be no lingering doubt.

    Does anyone really believe that a fire investigator (alleged expert) who almost always finds arson (1500 cases) should be trusted?

    The point is -- for those who don't get it -- Cameron should not have been imprisoned much less executed.

    Who here would have convicted him?
    It's not what a man knows that makes him a fool, it's what he does know that ain't so. .... Josh Billings

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    Some people do not "get it". In criminal cases, the standard for conviction is proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and in capital cases, there should be no lingering doubt.
    The condescension isn't necessary, really. I could say the same thing about people who think the accused are innocent almost 100% of the time.

    That being said, that threshold for guilt would have the majority of criminal defendants free. Our court system is built on reasonable doubt.

    Take Casey Anthony. Is she guilty? Absolutely, there's not a smidge of doubt in my mind. Were we there? Did we see her kill Caylee? Did we see her dump the body in the woods? Nope. Could we come up with a 100 bizarre scenarios to explain the forensic evidence? Yes. She could get the needle, and that'd be fine with me. But someone, somewhere could make the argument that there is still doubt. Absolute, undeniable proof is nearly impossible. It's why our system has the reasonable doubt threshold. Not a "tiny bit" of doubt, etc. Based on the witness testimony and evidence at the time, I'm sure that jury convicted him with confidence.

    To answer your question, yes, I would have convicted him.

    The problem with this case is that he shouldn't have been executed after the new report got to the appellate board. Significant doubt was raised. IMO, the problem wasn't with the conviction but the appeal.

    Either way, though, I'm not convinced he was innocent, and an article, written by an anti-DP author, and lack of access to the original documents is not going to convince me. He shouldn't have been executed, but I'm not sure he deserves to have "wrongfully convicted" next to his name for all eternity until we can get more objective information.

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    There wasnt just one problem here . The most important one being they way the new report was not reviewed before his death. We have safe guards that dont work if people do not fulfill the requried duties and they were let off the hook to easy.

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