Recent scientific reports indicating that Texas likely executed an innocent man have spurred wide coverage and commentary. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004 for the arson murder of his three children. Fire experts now say the blaze was likely an accident. Excerpts from coverage:
New York Times Editorial, August 31, 2009, "Questions About an Execution":
People should have no illusions about the brutal injustice of the death penalty after all of the exonerations in recent years from DNA evidence, but the case of Cameron Todd Willingham is still shocking.
Mr. Willingham was executed for setting a fire that killed his 2-year-old daughter and 1-year-old twins, but a fire expert hired by the State of Texas has issued a report casting enormous doubt on whether the fire was arson at all. The Willingham investigation, which is continuing, is further evidence that the criminal justice system is far too flawed to justify imposing a death penalty.
. . .
The commission is to be commended for conducting this inquiry, but it is outrageous that Texas is conducting its careful, highly skilled investigation after Mr. Willingham has been executed, rather than before.