Thursday, October 15, 2009

Texas Death Penalty, Todd Willingham and Inflammatory Texas Governor Rick Parry

Cameron Todd Willingham insisted upon his innocence in the deaths of his children and refused an offer to plead guilty in return for a life sentence. Read more: here Be sure to see
Ken Light's unique and startling photographs and his landmark Book TEXAS DEATH ROW University Press of Mississippi 1995 here

Excerpt from another case of Innocence? "We did the best we could with the information we had, but with a little extra work, a little extra effort, maybe we'd have gotten the right information. The bottom line is, an innocent person was put to death for it. We all have our finger in that." Miriam Ward, FOREWOMAN OF THE JURY THAT CONVICTED RUBEN CANTU."

Current item from the Cameron Todd Willingham story:

Willingham's Mother Responds:here


From Texas Moratorium Network:

Thank you to everyone who has already signed the petition to Governor Rick Perry and the State of Texas to acknowledge that the fire in the Cameron Todd Willingham case was not arson, therefore no crime was committed and on February 17, 2004, Texas executed an innocent man.

More than 2,600 people have signed. We are also working with another organization (CredoMobile) that has collected more than 2,500 on their own similar petition. So together we have more than 5,000 petition signatures to turn in to Rick Perry on October 24 during the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin at the Texas Capitol. It starts at 2 PM. Please plan to come to Austin for the march and help us demonstrate to the world and Rick Perry that there are people in Texas who are convinced that Todd Willingham was innocent and that the death penalty should be abolished.

On October 2, Texas Moratorium Network's Scott Cobb appeared on CNN and was probably the first person to accuse Rick Perry on national TV of conducting a cover up in the Todd Willingham case.

Since Scott first accused Perry of a cover up, many others have also accused Perry of a cover up in the Willingham case, including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (who is hardly a flaming liberal) who issued a press release saying, "Whether it’s University Regents or the Texas Forensic Science Commission, it’s clear that Rick Perry’s talk of checks and balances is just more arrogant political rhetoric. Only Rick Perry would arrogantly warn about the dangers of ‘unchecked government’ as he and his aides force University Regents to resign, pressure appointees and try to cover-up a critical investigation."

“Only the governor knows whether his motives were political, but these recent episodes have produced a pungent smell of politicization. And the odor is nauseating.” – Fort Worth Star-Telegram

"Although Perry has dismissed suggestions that he’s meddling, the governor’s fingerprints are all over the forensic science panel’s inquiry." - Dallas Morning News

Rick Perry yesterday vigorously defended his cover up of the execution of an innocent person in Texas by calling Todd Willingham a "monster".

Eugenia Willingham, Todd's mother, responded to Perry's statement by telephone on last night's CNN AC360, saying that Todd loved his kids and that Todd told her his trial was "a big joke" in part because his own defense lawyer thought he was guilty.

Kay Bailey Hutchison said that Rick Perry's actions and cover up has given "liberals" a valid issue to criticize the death penalty.

Dr. Craig Beyler was quoted on CNN last night saying that Rick Perry's new appointees to the Texas Forensic Science Commission should resign to restore integrity to the process. Beyler also said Perry is using his political clout to protect himself.

10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty October 24 in Austin GO to marchforabolition dot org

Please come to Austin on October 24 for the march to show the world and Rick Perry that there are people in Texas who are convinced that Todd Willingham was innocent and that the death penalty should be abolished. We have heard from media from around the world who plan to be at the march to cover the the Todd Willingham story. CNN is also planning to be there. We need you to show up so we can show the world that many people in Texas oppose the death penalty.

Speakers at the march will include two innocent, now-exonerated death row prisoners (Shujaa Graham and Curtis McCarty), Jeff Blackburn (Chief Counsel of the Innocence Project of Texas), Jeanette Popp (a mother whose daughter was murdered but who asked the DA not to seek the death penalty), Elizabeth Gilbert (the penpal of Todd Willingham who first pushed his innocence and helped his family find a fire expert to investigate), a family member of Todd Willingham and several other families of people on death row, including the mother of Reginald Blanton who is scheduled for execution in Texas on Oct 27 three days after the march.

The march starts at 2 PM on October 24 at the Texas Capitol. We will gather at the Texas Capitol, march down Congress Avenue to 6th street, then back to the Capitol for a rally to abolish the death penalty.

The night before the march, there will be a panel discussion on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin at 7 PM with Shujaa Graham and Curtis McCarty. They will speak about what it is like to be innocent and sentenced to death. The panel is in the Sinclair Suite (room 3.128) of the Texas Student Union on Guadalupe. Call us if you need more directions 512-552-4743.

Immediately after the march on October 24, we plan to hold a networking and strategy meeting inside the capitol. Everyone is invited to attend the strategy session and help us plan how to move forward to end executions in Texas. The strategy session will start about 30 minutes after the last speaker at the march.

The annual march is organized by several Texas anti-death penalty organizations, including the Austin chapter of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Texas Moratorium Network, the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, Texas Students Against the Death Penalty, Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center and Kids Against the Death Penalty.

If you would like to sign on as a sponsor of the march, click here to fill out the sponsorship form. It is free to be a sponsor. We just ask that you spread the word so that we get a good crowd at the march. Sponsors include Sister Helen Prejean, Bill Pelke and the Journey of Hope, the Texas Civil Rights Project, Reprieve, Iranians for Peace and Justice,Democrats for Life of Texas, S.H.A.P.E Community Center in Houston, the Dallas Peace Center, ALIVE Against the Death Penalty in Germany, Ensemble Against the Death Penalty (France), and many others. See others on the still growing list of sponsors here.

We are thinking about printing some t-shirts with Todd Willingham's picture on it and a quote from him saying, "I am an innocent man - convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do".

For more information and ways to support this effort, please call Scott Cobb
512 552-4743 or 512 961-6389

Texas Death Penalty Education and Resource Center
3616 Far West Blvd, Suite 117, Box 251
Austin, Texas 78731


Also see this article in Huff Post - Comment here at The Journey of Hope blog-site and/or in Huff Post:

TV news bite with place for Comments here

Time again and again for the classic article: "The Texas Memos" in "The Atlantic Monthly" here

The New Yorker A REPORTER AT LARGE about the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed for setting a fire that killed his three children in Corsicana, Texas, here

Those who read the excellent New Yorker article should also read: here

Huffington Post blogger Barry Scheck, of the Innocence Project, weighs in on the new evidence revealed by an investigative report GO here

Keep following the story in the DallasNews dot com...

(Also see the VIDEO in the post just below on this blog-site: The Journey of Hope)


Connie L. Nash said...

Justice is NEVER furthered by faulty lab-work, incompetent use of forensic evidence, cover up, nor a Governor calling someone executed "a monster". These are too often the kind of results we can all expect from the use of the Death Penalty. Get rid of this archaic practice!

Connie Nash

Please sign the petition - go to the link at the top of this post

Connie L. Nash said...

A man who came just hours away from being put to death before being exonerated spoke to a crowd at James Madison University on Wednesday.

Shabaka WaQlimi was set to be executed in 1987, but evidence proved his innocence.
He says more than a hundred innocent people have been executed in America and he wants capital punishment to end.

He encouraged students to get involved saying...

"Email them, get involved, contact your particular assembly person and let them know what you feel, that you don't want to kill people."

JMU student Meg Ammons was moved by his story,

"Hearing something like that makes me feel even stronger about the way that, i just don't believe in the death penalty at all," said Meg.

Many students we spoke with agreed with WaQlimi on ending capital punishment. But some, like Maggie Harwell from Virginia Beach, felt doing away with executions would create other problems.

"I mean there's overpopulation in jails and i know that capital punishment will lower the over population." Maggie said.

There are currently 24 people in Virginia , on death row.