TX Gov: Rick Perry Covering Up Execution of Innocent Man in 2004
by Texas Nate, Fri Oct 02, 2009 at 12:29:00 PM EDT
A little less than a month ago the New Yorker published a major piece making a strong case that the state of Texas executed an indisputably innocent man in 2004.
Cameron Todd Willingham was killed by the state for killing his children in a fire. Yet the best scientific analysis conclusively establishes that the fire was accidental and not caused by arson.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, going into a heated primary campaign against Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, has now suddenly and summarily replaced three board members of the state agency investigating the controversial 2004 execution, indefinitely postponing a hearing into the case. The Burnt Orange Report has excellent coverage here and here.
The conservative editorial board of the Dallas Morning News outlines the case in very stark terms:
Gov. Rick Perry looks like a desperate man with his decision to jettison the chairman of the state's forensic science panel.
The panel's post-mortem look at the Cameron Todd Willingham arson-murder case goes to the heart of Texas justice - including the governor's role in it - and whether an innocent man was railroaded into the death chamber at Huntsville.
Since Perry signed off on the Willingham execution in 2004, his own accountability is at stake. So perhaps it's no surprise that two days before the Texas Forensic Science Commission was to proceed with the case this week, Perry replaced the chairman and set things back.
Glenn Smith argues that Perry is in violation of federal law:
He may have violated federal law, U.S.C. 18.1001. This is no trivial matter. An innocent man was executed. Federal laws and guidelines are in place to keep that from happening. Perry may well have violated those laws and guidelines, for which there are criminal penalties.
This is all, at the very least, quite fishy. It's also potentially earth-shaking -- never before has it been conclusively determined that someone in this country was wrongfully put to death. If Cameron Todd Willingham's innocence can be proven, it would upend the entire rationale behind our system of capital punishment. And yet there hasn't been a whole lot of media coverage - a Nexis search of all news sources for the past two days for (cameron w/2 willingham and perry) turned up seven results.
This could be the beginning of the end for not only one of the most reactionary governors in the country but for the death penalty itself.