In 2004, Texas executed Cameron Todd Willingham for murdering his three children by setting fire to his house. Now a new report by the Texas Forensic Science Commission has called the arson report so seriously flawed that it cannot be relied upon, “nothing more than a collection of personal beliefs that have nothing to do with science-based fire investigation.” Willingham was convicted of killing his children by arson, but we now know the fire wasn’t arson. The commission will release it’s final report next year, and might do what no other state has ever done, admit to wrongfully executing an innocent person.
This might be an interesting point in the death penalty debate. As David Gann noted in his recent New Yorker article about the Willingham case, which I strongly recommend you read,
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in 2006, voted with a majority to uphold the death penalty in a Kansas case. In his opinion, Scalia declared that, in the modern judicial system, there has not been “a single case—not one—in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.”
Gann’s article is fascinating and worth reading in full. It’ll break your heart, but read it anyway.
Hon. John Jackson, a prosecutor on the Willingham case, wrote an op-ed in the Corsica Daily Sun in which he attempted to rebut arguments against Willingham’s guilt: Willingham Guilt Never in Doubt
And here is Nina Morrison of the Innocence Project’s devastating rebuttal to Jackson’s rebuttal: Time to Face Truth in Willingham Case