I remember reading about the doubt in this case ages ago. Stories like this are why I cannot support the death penalty:
A Texas judge who reviewed the controversial 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham planned to posthumously exonerate the father who was put to death for killing his three daughters in a house fire.
Scientific experts who debunked the arson evidence used against Willingham at his 1992 trial and a jailhouse witness who recanted his shaky testimony convinced District Court Judge Charlie Baird in 2010 that “Texas wrongfully convicted” him. But Baird’s order clearing Willingham’s name never became official, because a higher court halted the posthumous inquiry while it considered whether the judge had authority to examine the capital case.
While waiting for permission to finish the case from the Third Court of Appeals, Baird put together the document that “orders the exoneration of Cameron Todd Willingham for murdering his three daughters,” because of “overwhelming, credible and reliable evidence” presented during a one-day hearing in Austin in October 2010.
Responses like this are why I cannot trust politicians who do support the death penalty:
Some of the harshest criticism in Baird’s writing is directed at Perry. The governor’s role in refusing to postpone Willingham’s execution was closely examined by The Huffington Post during his presidential campaign.
“By 2004 there was no doubt that every single indication of arson had been debunked by the scientific community,” Baird wrote. “This fact was staring Governor Perry in the face; nevertheless, he refused to grant a reprieve.”
Perry has stood by the decision when questioned previously about Willingham. His office didn’t flinch from the latest criticism.
“Nothing the Austin court could have done would change the fact that Todd Willingham was convicted and sentenced to death by a jury of his peers for murdering his three daughters,” said a statement from his spokeswoman Lucy Nashed. “He had full access to every level of the appeals process, and his conviction was reviewed and upheld by multiple levels of state and federal courts. … The governor reviewed all of the facts of the case and agreed with the jury, and state and federal courts that Willingham was guilty.”
Carlos DeLuna’s story is another case of the death penalty gone wrong. So long as the chance exists that an innocent man might die for the crimes of another, how can it be justified?