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Shouting from the Rooftops
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BREAKING: Columbia Law School uncovers evidence that Carlos DeLuna, who was executed in Texas in 1989, was likely innocent.
In 2006, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that there has not been "a single case - not one - in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent's name would be shouted from the rooftops."
We knew then, though, that innocents had been executed. So the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty issued a report entitled “Innocent and Executed: Four Chapters in the Life of America’s Death Penalty.” In that report, we told the stories of four such men: Ruben Cantu, Carlos De Luna, Larry Griffin and Cameron Todd Willingham. These cases continue to percolate.
In May, 2012, new information came to light in the cases of Carlos De Luna and Cameron Todd Willingham.
In the De Luna case, an exhaustive study was released by the Columbia University Human Rights Law Review, which set up this web page in order to lay out all of the evidence for anyone to see and evaluate for themselves.
In the Willingham case,a court order declaring his exoneration which had been written but never released by Texas District Court Judge Charlie Baird, came to light. Judge Baird had been ordered to stop the proceedings in 2010, before he could issue his decision. Now retired and in private practice, he made his findings public in this article.Read the 18 page order here.
The story of Cameron Todd Willingham garnered its most significant national attention due to a magazine article, "Trial by Fire," published in the September 7, 2009 edition of the New Yorker. The reporter, David Grann, lays out the powerful story of Willingham's conviction and execution, and demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt what we have known all along: That Cameron Todd Willingham was innocent, and he was executed. On October 19, 2010, an important, in-depth PBS "Frontline" documentary, "Death by Fire" which also focused on the case, confirmed that Willingham's wrongful conviction and execution was the result of "junk science."
But efforts to officially clear Willingham's name and prove that the fire was not caused by arson have been stymied. First, a hearing before the Texas Forensic Science Commission in 2009 to review a report by fire scientist Craig Beyler, who also said the fire was in all probability accidental, was cancelled when Governor Rick Perry removed its members and replaced them with new commissioners. After months of delay, a commission subcommittee which examines fire investigation methodology, began its inquiry, but the original fire investigators, supported by new Commission Chair John Bradley, insisted that their methods, and their interpretation of the evidence, was valid. Bradley was even quoted as saying Willingham was "a guilty monster." Willingham's family petitioned District Judge Charlie Baird for a hearing with the goal of clearing Willingham's name. A hearing was held in mid-October 2010, but it was halted by an appeals court's stay.
As Justice Scalia asked, we are now SHOUTING FROM THE ROOFTOPS that this man was innocent. But we need your help to get the message out.
Read our report, "Innocent and Executed: Four Chapters in the Life and Death of America's Death Penalty," and tell a friend about it.
Support NCADP's work by clicking here. Your gift enables us to reach out to more people and helps our voices grow louder.
Put the "Shouting from the Rooftops" banner on your web page or blog. Click here for the html code.
Watch "Death by Fire" on PBS' "Frontline" website with your friends. Be sure to leave a comment on the website about the Willingham case, calling for an end to the death penalty.
Watch the 2011 film about the Willingham case, "Incendiary" and tell others about the film and the case.
PREVIOUS NEWS UPDATES:
September 30, 2009 - Gov. Perry of Texas stops formal process to examine Willingham case.
April 23, 2010 - Texas Forensic Science Commission to finally investigate Willingham case -- but does not set timeline for completion. Click HERE for more in the Willingham case news section.
July 23, 2010 - The Texas Forensic Science Commission met today to discuss the Willingham case, but took no concrete action except to say that a fire investigator whose testimony played a significant role in Willingham's conviction -- and whose forensic investigation and findings were among those characterized in the Craig Beyler report as stemming from "junk science" -- was not at fault. The Commission is scheduled to meet on the case again on September 17. Meanwhile, some members of Willingham's family say the Commission's review of the flawed fire science investigation leading to his conviction and execution is moving too slowly. See the Willingham case news section for details.
Over the objections of its Chair, the Texas Forensic Science Commission during its September 17, 2010 meeting, decided to continue its probe into the Willingham case, to determine if the best fire investigation standards at the time were followed by the Texas fire experts who reviewed the evidence. See the Willingham case news section for details.