Picture of a bad man

If you didn't read the article in The New Yorker about Cameron Todd Willingham, you should. I've written about it before, but things have progressed since then. Or, more accurately, they haven't.

Willingham was convicted of murdering his three children by arson, and was executed by the state of Texas in 2004. The case against him, as the article makes abundantly clear, had numerous flaws, but he was executed anyway. One of the people who could have saved him, or at least have investigated his case, was Governor Rick Perry. Perry is also in charge of the panel that has since been empowered to look into questions about whether Willingham was innocent and wrongly executed.

Can you see where this is going?

From the Dallas Morning News, dated October 1:
Gov. Rick Perry was blasted Wednesday after he swept three appointees from their jobs just two days before they were set to critically examine a flawed arson investigation that contributed to the execution of a Corsicana man.

The hearing of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, scheduled for Friday in Irving, was abruptly canceled by the new chairman the governor chose, Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley. He is considered one of the most conservative, hard-line prosecutors in Texas.

From TPM:
Sam Bassett, the former chair of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, has now told the Houston Chronicle that lawyers for Perry told him the case was inappropriate, and that the hiring of a nationally known fire expert was a "waste of state money."

Over the weekend, Bassett had said he was pressured by the governor's lawyers.

Meanwhile, Perry's GOP rivals are slamming his handling of the issue, and accusing him of a cover-up. As governor, Perry signed off on the execution, despite receiving eleventh-hour documents from lawyers for the convicted man, Cameron Willingham, containing evidence that the original investigation was badly flawed.

Also from TPM, today:
Texas governor Rick Perry has defended his handling of a death penalty case that may have led to the execution of an innocent man -- and launched an extraordinary attack on the dead man himself.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Perry yesterday called Cameron Todd Wilingham a "monster," a "bad man," and "a guy who murdered his three children, who tried to beat his wife into an abortion so that she wouldn't have those kids."

Again, read the article in The New Yorker. Nobody questions that Willingham was a troubled and often violent man. But what remains very much in question is whether he burned his children to death, or whether he was innocent, the victim of a flawed prosecution and a broken clemency system, including an indifferent governor.

Perry has drawn attention to himself for saying some really dumb, inflammatory stuff. He's a politician, so that's pretty much SOP. We can live with that, I suppose. But letting an innocent man die for a crime he didn't commit, flagrantly covering it up, and publicly denigrating him as though your opinion is all that matters? Reprehensible.

Want to know what a "bad man" and a "monster" looks like?

1 comment:

  1. Not sure why people need a "good" argument opposing the death penalty---seems as though the government getting together and murdering someone is a good enough reason---but execution of innocent people is the reason most first-world countries have ended the practice. And if killing an innocent person is the ultimate argument against capital punishment, isn't even the *chance* they got it wrong enough to go to a life-in-prison system?