Friday, December 10, 2004
Cameron Todd Willingham declared his innocence one last time before he was executed, having been convicted for starting a fire that killed his three children. In his final statement he said, "I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime I did not commit...I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do." Since his execution on February 17, 2004, a Chicago Tribune investigation team uncovered that the arson theories set forth by the prosecution's winning argument have since been disproven by scientific advances.
The Chicago Tribune reports: "According to four fire experts consulted by the Tribune, the original investigation was flawed and it is even possible the fire was accidental. Before Willingham died by lethal injection on Feb. 17, Texas judges and Gov. Rick Perry turned aside a report from a prominent fire scientist questioning the conviction.
The author of the report, Gerald Hurst, reviewed additional documents, trial testimony and an hourlong videotape of the aftermath of the fire scene at the Tribune's request last month. Three other fire investigators--private consultants John Lentini and John DeHaan and Louisiana fire chief Kendall Ryland--also examined the materials for the newspaper.
'There's nothing to suggest to any reasonable arson investigator that this was an arson fire,' said Hurst, a Cambridge University-educated chemist who has investigated scores of fires in his career. 'It was just a fire.'"
More... [Mark Godsey]