Death by Fire - Put to death for arson-murder, but was he guilty?
I don’t know if anyone’s been paying attention to the Cameron Todd Willingham case, but Frontline has a documentary about the case, along with an interesting document dump online at the moment. The documents are displayed in a maddenly tiny embedded viewer, but there are links to downloadable PDFs.
I can’t draw any conclusions about Willingham’s guilt or innocence, and that’s exactly the problem. I have reasonable doubt, or at least nagging uncertainty. The interview with arson expert Gerald Hurst is especially troubling, as it raises all kinds of doubts about the “science” behind the original arson investigation. Before Willingham’s execution, Hurst had reviewed the case and concluded there was “no evidence of arson”, the same conclusion reached by other fire investigators. Hurst’s report was sent to governor Rick Perry’s office as well as Board of Pardons and Paroles along with Willingham’s appeal for clemency.
And Perry’s rather creepy interference with the state’s Forensic Science Commission just as it was set to review aspects of the investigation proves the old saw about the appearance of impropriety being just as damaging as actual impropriety.