Before the lethal drugs poured into his vein, stopping his heart and ending his life, Cameron Todd Willingham gave a last statement from the Texas death chamber. This is what inmate # 999041 said:
“The only statement I want to make is that 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. From God's dust I came and to dust I will return – so the earth shall become my throne. I gotta go, road dog. I love you Gabby.”
Willingham was executed on February 17, 2004. More than four-years later, state investigators will decide if an innocent man was put to death. The Texas Forensic Science Commission has agreed to review the case because key evidence has been called into question.
Willingham was convicted of murdering his three young daughters. Prosecutors said he intentionally set fire to their home. A jury agreed.
Now, more than four years after the execution, the forensic testing that the prosecution used to argue it was arson has been called mistaken.
A panel commissioned by the Innocence Project determined that an incendiary agent was not used, concluding that in all likelihood the fire was accidental.
The state said justice was served. Now many wonder if that was just an injustice.
This is exactly why I don't beleive in the death penalty. Our judicial system is set on the foundation that it is better to let a hundred guilty men go free than to let one innocent man go to jail.
And Ghandi said: eye for an eye and soon the world will be blind.
What a tragedy.
I agree with G. Miles..........Know your stuff before you decide to put someone to death...blood is on the States hands if he was truly innocent.
It makes you really wonder how often the judicial system doesn't take all the steps necessary to prevent something like this. How many lives could be spared?
yea alot say they are innocent but who are u to judge to say they are or are not? read all the facts before u judge cindy
What I've found to be true is even if he was innocent of this crime he was probably involved in a half dozen others we'll never know of. There's a reason the authorities went looking at him. He was no angel! Dust in the wind
This is a miscarriage of justice, i must agree. However, abolishing the death penalty will not improve our justice system, and in some cases it is fully justified. Whether guilty of arson or not, no parent that deserves the name would save their car and not their children. Read the facts involved in the case and about the man in question. He was a waste of flesh and did not deserve his family to say the least. Im not saying our system is always right, in alot of ways its very very flawed, just dont use it as an excuse to spout party lines like "stop the death penalty." The death penalty has been around since the beginning of time. it should be used correctly, it should not take 12 years to execute a criminal. Child rapists, people that murder the innocent (and yes theres a difference between murdering innocents and killing someone who deserves it) and people that repeatedly rape should be put to death. Guilt should be proven beyond all doubt however. In this case justice was not served. Ive seen a few people say "how would you feel if this was your brother?" better question, how would you feel if it was your child he murdered? would you want them to live to possibly do it to someone elses children? And if he could allow his children to roast alive in the house, he may as well have thrown the match himself. I would rather chance dying of smoke inhalation than allow my children to burn, and i definitely wouldnt rescue my car instead.
i live in texas and I can tell u first hand that cops here consider themselves cowboys. Seems as though they get sick with the abuse of power. So eager to convict, no so eager to admit their faults. If this story is true, well.... you've created a nightmare. His kids died, he died, oh how the mother must feel cheated by our "perfect" system. Justice does not always work. That fairy tale is over.
i beileve Todd Willingham is innocent. What was his reason for killing his daughter if that were true. When it comes to ARSON is something difficult to determine if it was set by a person or it was accidental. I do not believe he deserved to die by LETHAL INJECTION. I beileve he needed a fair trail and better defense attorney. TEXAS IS SO WRONG ON EVERY LEVEL WHEN IT COIMES TO THE DEATH PENALTY.
THEY MUST TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CASES BEING FILED.
The appeal process in the justice system really is disfunctional, dis organized. i know his laywer did not do his job correctly. If he did this man would have still be alive today. I am so sadden by the justice system. hope they get thier act together and be more efficent in their work. REST IN PEACE TODD.
See, this is one of the reason's that i'm not sure we should have the DP anymore. If this guy was really innocent, then we murdered him for no good reason. WHY Do we kill people,Who kill people,To show that killing people is wrong ? I'm starting to believe that we should let go of the DP.
Just the fact that there was a question at all as to whether or not he was innocent should have been enough to take the death penalty off the table.
For the Texas rednecks who are trying to defend your bloodthirsty, vengeful culture, you make me sick. You may have executed an innocent man (which is what all the evidence points to), and all you people can do is defend this action??? They did the best they could??? What the hell is wrong with you people????
For the guy who talked about all the highways and byways and whatever other idiocy about ways to leave Texas: I strongly suggest you excersise your God given right to bear arms... but do it against yourself. In fact, I say spare Austin and bomb the rest of Texas into oblivion (not that it has far to go). Trying to get ignorant adults to listen to reason is an excersise in futility.
This kind of publicity happens every time someone is put to death using forensics based circumstantial evidence. It's used to ellicit an emotional response. Look at the execution of Roger Keith Coleman in Virginia, the ACLU and Death Penalty opponents kept saying "Virginia should be ashamed, they put an innocent man to death". Shows like American Justice, 60 Minutes and 20/20 even profiled the case. Death Penalty opponents hounded the state to have the evidence tested by an independent lab, depite the fact Virginia's forensics lab is NOT part of the Virginia Justice Department and IS independant from legal pressure. Virginia finally relented after years of legal action from Death Penalty opponents and allowed the forensic evidence to be tested at a California lab. Guess what? The California lab confirmed Roger Keith Coleman was GUILTY.
The State of Virginia was right, as I believe the State of Texas was right. How dare we second guess the legal system. I'm sure Texas didn't make a snap decision and decide to execute Mr. Willingham. The review process for the death penalty is not taken lightly anywhere in the U.S. for fear of executing an innocent person. This is the reason for the 5+ years of reviews prior to the the execution taking place. Where was the Innocence Project during this process?
" it costs more to kill someone than to keep them in jail forever (or until the day that evidence comes to light which proves they are innocent or casts enough doubt to lessen their penalty). Also, it has been proven time and again that the death penalty does not dissuade other would be criminals from committing crimes.
To sum up briefly, there is no good reason why capital punishment should be used."
This is absolutely the truth Dan! Many Many Many people don't see that it cost so much more to put someone to death vs. life in jail.
I'm against the Death penalty simply for the fact that nobody and I mean nobody has the right to take anyones life whatsoever!
I have to say I am proud that so many people have made their views heard...even if they are based on conjecture and not reading all the facts, notes or even realizing anything about this case...in fact I think only one person has any idea about this case and that is "ak".
I am "god fearing" as someone else has said and I believe in "eye for an eye"..This man is a pig, an abuser, a POS and I for one am glad that Justice was served. How anyone on here can have sympathy for a man that would save his car or any possession over his children or family is beyond me.
As far as Texas Peace Officers not trustworthy, well I would venture a guess that you have run into the wrong side of the law and didnt like the outcome...Let's remember Canada that great country to the north who hides draft dodgers and murderers and terrorists...I love my country and while we have our faults, the rest of the world will continue to find fault with how we do things here because they covet what we have...personal choice.
Inmates always say they are innocent. Yes, because even if they are guilty they hold onto the fact that if they say there are innocent. They have a chance in getting off. It is normal behavior. I have met several guys that were guilty as sin. I know them. Yet they plead innocent even to friends. lol. really. But twelve years and no evidence till now. This is a joke. Maybe if we saved all the wasted money in policing the world where we are not wanted. We could spend it on education and jobs and we would save many crimes from happening. Look at Sweden, Denmark. We are the third world country in there eyes.
This is in reply to what A vet said. "has anything good ever come out of Texas.don't think so. look at our president. personally. cut Texas loose- give it back to Mexico -move fence". You don't know your as from a hole in the ground. Ever hear of some of these people ? Chester William Nimitz, Claire Lee Chennault, Don Meredith , Nolan Ryan, Jack Johnson, Willie Shoemaker, Lance Armstrong, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Audie Murphy, Sam Donaldson & Dan Rather. Face it, there are a lot of famous people from Texas, like it or not. I'm sure Texas is not the only state that has executed an innocent person and wont be the last. It is truly an unfortunate thing, but we are all human the only true perfect being is GOD. So until they can come up with a better system what do we do ? There were 12 men and women on that jury that thought he was guilty. A jury of his peers. A last thought don't speak until you have something intelligent to say. Thanks for the time.
Cindy wrote: August 22nd, 2008 9:40 am ET
I don’t know the whole story to say if the man was innocent or not. But all prisoners on death row or not say that they are innocent even when they are guilty as sin. So who’s to say that this man was the same. If he was guilty he got what he deserves. If not then what can be done, he is already dead.
CINDY – He IS dead and what can be done is to challenge these laws. I don't know if you are a parent but I know that you have parents. What if his were to happen to someone in your family and someone responded, ' What can be done, they are already dead'. Would you have the same reaction?
Shame on you.
In response to Cindy who commented "what can be done " if this man was truly innocent. Consider if the life of the innocent person that was robbed was that of your loved one. Would your response still remain the same? If this man was truly innocent as evidence now suggests I hope then the last thing in the world we would be saying is "what can be done"? Instead we should be asking what can be done to prevent such a horrible mistake from ever happening again and then moving swiftly into a plan of action to ensure that no innocent lives are lost at the hand of our criminal justice system.
This article didn't give any actual evidence from the case, so I went to do a little looking – this man was spotted by neighbors crouched outside a window while the fire was taking place – they yelled for him about the children and he refused to go inside. He did get mad when the windows of the house started busting out and was worried his car would be damaged, so he went and moved his car. He said he and the children were asleep when the fire occurred yet he had no smoke inhilation at all. He was spotted the next day Christmas Eve at the hosue going through the debris listening to loud music and laughing with his wife. He had a large history of felonies and midemeanors. An expert witness for the State testified that the floors, front threshold, and front concrete porch were burned, which only occurs when an accelerant has been used to purposely burn these areas. The witness further testified that this igniting of the floors and thresholds is typically employed to impede firemen in their rescue attempts.
Now I don't know if he is innocent or not – but from reading the actual case report and facts you can see why a jury could find him guilty.
If this guy is innocent... And the chance of anyone finding the truth out is slim to nil... Criminal charges of murder (perhaps simple manslaughter) should be brought up against the prosecutors and cops... negligence of this nature is murder pure and simple!
States are prosecuting people for murder if someone is killed by accident... Yet when this sort of thing happens, the good ole boy network of cops & DA's circle the wagons and stonewall anyone that tries to prove they were wrong
It will most likely be swept under the rug and the "special investigation" (wink wink nudge nudge) will out last anyones memory of the event so when the DA & police exonerate themselves, no one but the mans family will care... These people have this sort of behavior down to a science
And people like Nancy Grace get their thrills off by getting rich for prosecuting innocent people in the media and demonizing them in public opinion... God I HATE that woman!!!
Cindy said "If he was guilty he got what he deserves. If not then what can be done, he is already dead." The western system is based on a 1000 guilty escaping before an innocent dies. But I feel the american system is very flawed and easy on executions. Look at the number of executions in India and US. with 4 times the population execution is rare indeed so that an innocent can be rep[rived easily. But then the crime scene in US is also different!! too many sick people who will kill at the drop of a hat. All these executions, but still it is the same percentage of murders. But then each system is based on its cultural setting.
Ok, death penalty supporters... maybe this guy was innocent, maybe he wasn't. But, there's only one way to ensure that we don't kill innocent people.
My question to you is: exactly how many innocent people should we tolerate our government killing to keep the death penalty active? 1? 20? 100?
For those who've asked the same question, in recent years (like, the last 2 or 3), there's been serious reversals in the field of arson investigation. Previous "common knowledge" is now being considered irrelevant. These are new changes, and investigators may have incorrectly tabulated the data.
And like every other opinion here, I haven't seen the case files, therefore our opinions as to whether or not a mistake was made is irrelevant.
May God forgive the Prosecution, the Jury and the Judge for they all have blood on their hands.
Prosecutors are judge's not prosecutors. There is great number of people who were released because they were innocent.
Rush to judgment. I don't believe in Capital Punishment and I think this is one good reason why!.
they say things happen for a reason........ Maybe these turn of events happend so he could be with his kids again.........
I'm not going to give my opinion on whether or not we should have the death penalty. But there should be strict circumstances under which it can be used if it is going to be used. To determine that it is arson may have been a mistake, but how did they determine without a doubt that it was him that commited it. It's sad that a man could have lost his children to an accidental fire and then gets accused of setting it. And then for some to say "oh well, nothing you can do about it now?" I don't understand how they can be so empty.
if an innocent man was put to death without solid proof, the state shoud be held responsible indefinatly.
summary from news article–
Two days before Christmas in 1991, Willingham poured a combustible liquid on the floor throughout his home and intentionally set the house on fire, resulting in the death of his three children. According to autopsy reports, Amber, age two, and twins Karmon and Kameron, age 1, died of acute carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of smoke inhalation. Neighbors of Willingham testified that as the house began smoldering, Willingham was “crouched down” in the front yard, and despite the neighbors’ pleas, refused to go into the house in any attempt to rescue the children. An expert witness for the State testified that the floors, front threshold, and front concrete porch were burned, which only occurs when an accelerant has been used to purposely burn these areas. The witness further testified that this igniting of the floors and thresholds is typically employed to impede firemen in their rescue attempts. The testimony at trial demonstrates that Willingham neither showed remorse for his actions nor grieved the loss of his three children. Willingham’s neighbors testified that when the fire “blew out” the windows, Willingham “hollered about his car” and ran to move it away from the fire to avoid its being damaged. A fire fighter also testified that Willingham was upset that his dart board was burned. Willingham told authorities that the fire started while he and the children were asleep. An investigation revealed that it was intentionally set with a flammable liquid. His claims of heroic effort to save the girls were not borne out by his unscathed escape with little smoke in his lungs.
let's not shed tears for him just yet....
I think Muriel missed the point. It was an innocent man who was executed and not a rapist, murderer, etc. etc. (By the way, the U.S. Supreme Court recently held that capital punishment can only be sought in murder cases.)
Even if you are a proponent of the death penalty, don't you want the correct person to be punished??? The bottom line is that if even one innocent person is executed, then this system has failed. Imagine that you or someone you love is the innocent person on death row . . .
Just because it's possible that an accelerant was not used to start the fire doesn't make the man innocent. He still may have started the fire. This article does not give us a shred of evidence showing that this man is innocent. A jury convicted him and the appelate courts held up that conviction. You bleeding hearts need to go live in a ghetto for a while, then maybe your liberal views may change a bit after your lives are threatened by these in-human animals for a few days.
Just one more of the continuing reasons capitol punishment should be abolished. I know it's not for sure yet, but it's now a possibility that Tex. has executed an innocent man. Our country needs to join the other civilized states and countries, that have done away with this practice. The U.S. will eventually do this, but probably not for years to come, and then just one or two states at a time, years apart. Meanwhile, we continue to kill our citizens, some of them possibly innocent.
Yes if he is truly incocent this would be a great setback for the Texas Legal System. The fact of the matter is that people make mistakes. We are unperfect. Im sure there are pleny of people inocent on death row or even serving life, but its a percentage game. For every 1 million slime balls we execute once inocent man gets thrown in the mix. I strongly beleive there family should tbe strongly compinstated and someone withing the legal system should be held accountable. Some one didnt do there home work.
The system works but it is flawed because we are imperfect. Find me another country that does it better.
Its a sad sad day if that man was innocent!!! He'll be in the arms of the Lord if its true what he said.
Hey Cindy from GA, if that man was your father/brother/husband/friend/son, you'd sing a different tune. A human life is not something we can say "oh well" to.
This is what is wrong with circumstantial evidence. A good prosecuter can make any evidence fit the alleged crime. I'm sure circumstantial evidence is a direct link to the many innocent people that has been convicted in Texas and then have been released due to DNA. It is bad enough that someone spends 15 to 20 years in jail and then is found to be innocent but to execute a person who is found to be innocent has gone too far. One innocent person that is executed is one too many. For our system to work this is not supposed to happen. The D.A. and prosecuter are directly responsible for making the charges and should be held responsible when they make a mistake. Let them set in jail for the same amount of years and these mistakes won't happen again. Cameron Willingham could have been released after serving 12 years and a mistake could have been rectified. But the death penalty can't rectify mistakes. This is the main reason I oppose the death penalty.
This is just why the death penalty should be abolished. Does anyone think for one minute that the people who wrongly convicted a person will admit they made a mistake. "Pride goth before the fall". Pride would never allow anyone to admit a mistake of that magnitude, no matter what. Even if someone did admit to being wrong, that young man is still just as dead, he can't be brougnt back. Death is final, there is no "Oops, made a mistake, I'll do better the next time". For this poor victim, there is no next time for anything. And he may have been, and probably was, all that "ak" said he was but he was still a human being. The death penalty is still inexcusible, under any circumstance.
Just don't ask Nancy Grace if she cares about an innocent man being put to death. The family and friends of Richard Ricci could tell you that she cares not one iota. Even after this falsely accused man who was publicly villainized by Grace on multitudes of occasions died of a heart attack, and the true kidnappers were later apprehended in the Elizabeth Smart case, Grace refused to apologize to his girlfriend, who is the mother of a handicapped child who looked to Ricci as a kind parental figure. Sick.
My question to all would be...if the death penalty was abolished, what
is the proper way to control, restrict, handle or punish the Joseph Duncans of this world? Richard Davis and Kenneth McGriff (McGuff) (Texas) are proof that psychopaths resume killing upon release from prisons. The alternative to DP is life w/out parole. Taxpayers do not want ot house, feed and Protect these human monsters for 20-30+ years. Jeffrey Dahmer was in general population and met his fate there. Child molesters are the lowest of the low within the penal walls, so why are they offered segregation? Simple, to keep them alive....for what, REHABILITATION? My point is simple actually...we, as a society, have to decide how to deal with EVIL people. Do we support the DP out of our desire for Justice or Revenge?
Very Sad story, GOD BLESS HIS SOUL
isn't BUSH A PROUD TEXAN?
12 of his peers found him guilty. Justice was served. IF he was innocent his lawyer should be next for murdering his cleint. We do not have a flawless system, nobody does. The biggest of the flaw is we allow life in prison. We are saying murder someone and we'll give you everything you need for the rest of your life for free. Sounds like a good plan to me. Why do we spend millions on these burdens to society when we can spend $65 on the drugs to repay them for what they did to the family and friends of their victems?
First of all they don't know for sure he was innocent. Second I wonder if any of you bleeding hearts out there had someone murdered would you still be singing the same tune. My 7 y/o step-daughter was murdered back in 1998 by a sexual predator and after 10 years we are still going through the appeal process. It happened in Florida where the wheels of justice turn very slowly. We don't know what the POS did to Amanda but we do know there was alot of blood evidence to show that he murdered her. I just read ak and if what they say is true than he got what he deserved. Cruel and unusual punishment, it makes me want to gag everytime one of these murderers use that as an appeal. What about the Victims? No one gave them their due process.
Dana August 22nd, 2008 2:43 pm ET
"One out of four Americans are currently in custody in prisons or jails. The prosecutors want to put people away and get points for doing so – it has nothing to do with justice or innocence. Capital punishment must be abolished. People think that being on death row could never happen to them, but this case shows that all that needs to happen is a house fire – probably started by natural causes – anyone could be sentenced to prison for murder. Our forefathers would be horrified to see what we have done to the justice system that they set up – our government should be ashamed, we should be ashamed."
No, just over 1% are incarcerated for all reasons, total.
If Texas is the state that errs on the side of overzealous prosecution, OHIO is definitely the state where criminals have overwhelming protection and innocent victims/people are totally disregarded.
When one wants to prosecute a criminal in OHIO, one first files a criminal complaint with the police. Then one is obliged to go to the police "safety" building to request a copy of the report be FAXED to the prosecuter's office... then one goes to the prosecuter's office and waits 4-5 hours to be seen One must give one's own SSN nd birthdate to have a criminal check run on oneself! The criminal is then assigned a FREE (paid for by taxpayers) public defender (and in the case of this particular individual is found innocent for 20 years' worth of crimes. Oh, by the way, if the complainant does not know the birthdate of the criminal he cannot be prosecuted.
I was shocked by the procedure and did not relinquish my privacy... but I was totally shocked by the process. Criminals have more rights than non-criminal folks in OHIO and OREGON.
cindy, i think you have missed the point of the article. by you saying that even if he was innocent what can be done because he is dead, is a very harsh statement. the point of the article is that this happens all the time. our "justice" system is determined by a pool of the public who has nothing better than a 7th grade education level. if you were innocent and being tried for a crime that imposed the death penalty because the jury is not intelligent enough to see the truth then im sure you would have more of an insight into this matter. look at the innocent project, which is an organization that devotes its time to saving innocent people's lives. people who were convicted before technology became so reliable were sentenced to death. Without the innocence project, many of these people would be executed.
the point is– if this man was executed and he was innocent there ARE things we can do about it. maybe not about him per se, but our "justice" system is not perfect and before we execute people we must have hard evidence as to their guilt.
i pray he was guilty, otherwise someone should be held liable for putting an innocent man to death.
This is the inmoral fiber of our country and justice system, we say that no man/women can prematurally take anothers life, but the justice system has done just that, and has done it many times over, our beliefs as american are clouded by fancy rehtoric in a court of law by men with law degrees that reguire atleat 4-7 yrs of college and most of the time the jury that determins a persons fate have only made it through high school, now this is an unfair spectical that takes place in almost every court room across america, jurs need to be well educated in the certain trials they are sitting in on, there is no such thing as a fair trial just the illiouison of one, yet we as americans still rely on a consitution that was created over 200 yrs ago by men that didnt even have electricity, indoor bathroom, etc...will they still abide by the same paper 200 yrs from now, that is a scary thought, the world has changed we know so much more now...its time "WE THE PEOPLE" stand up and say enough is enough, no more innocent lifes can be afforded to be lost.
To all of those who say accidents happen and will happen again while still supporting the death penalty....I wonder how quickly your mind would change it you or a loved one...due to mistaken id or bad karma, end up pleading upon deaf ears about your innocence.
Well as a former victim of Texas injustice. It's all suspects are guilty un-till proven innocent in a kangaroo court by dollars signs. The system is broken an they know this. They don't care. It's about track records ( How many wins the DA gets on his record) What the DA said to my mom was truth doesn't matter. Your son just happen to be at the right place at the wrong time have a nice day an walked away smiling. To this day he has no regret for the pain he has caused me or my family. I'm just another victim of vigilantly justice . Now after 28 years the new DA has cleared my name. I can't file charges against the DA who destroyed my life Because Texas passed law to protect DA's from prosecution. I also will never be COMPENSATED for the time in prison or the shame brought on my family or my good name.All I got was ( were sorry. ) Next....
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