Friday, October 2, 2009

Update on the Willingham Report

Cameron Todd Willingham, in case you haven't heard, was executed in Texas in 2004 for killing his 3 children in a fire. A recent report by some of the nation's top forensic arson investigators exonerated him, proving that the fire was an accident.

Two day before the Texas Forensic Science Commission was to meet to discuss the case (a meeting in which Texas Governor Rick Perry would have been blamed for ignoring a report which would have exonerated Willingham in the days before his execution), that same governor, Rick Perry, abruptly dismissed three of the commissioners, including the chairman, which resulted in the abrupt canceling of the meeting until further notice.

Rick Perry was Willingham's last line of defense. His job was to make sure that any new evidence was considered before executing Todd Willingham. His job was to make sure that there was no reason to think that he might be innocent. When a report which would have exonerated Willingham and should have saved his life was given to the governor, he ignored it.

He ignored it even though it is his job to read it. Even though it is his job to look out for helpless people, whom is state is planning to kill. And then, days before the Texas Forensic Science Commission was going to expose his negligence, he eviscerated the commission and in the process, actively covered up his crime.

I believe that Governor Perry is guilty of negligent homicide. I believe the Texas statute quoted below will substantiate that claim. Furthermore, I believe that he is now committing obstruction of justice.

A person commits an offense of criminally negligent homicide if he causes the death of an individual by criminal negligence.

A person acts with criminal negligence, or is criminally negligent, with respect to circumstances surrounding his conduct or the result of his conduct when he ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor’s standpoint.

Here is Alan Levy, one of the fired commissioners, from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

Levy said he wasn't going to assume that Perry replaced the board members as a way of forcing the meeting to be cancelled until after the March gubernatorial primary.

"I've got my own thought, but I don't have any way of knowing," Levy said. "It's just odd. I'll assume that this was just part of the normal process; but if it was, it certainly wasn't handled the way it should have been."

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