From the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
It’s Time for Answers in the Willingham Case
Ten years ago today – February 17, 2004 – Cameron Todd Willingham was executed by the State of Texas despite compelling evidence of his innocence. Willingham was put to death for the 1991 arson murder of his three daughters in Corsicana. His case continues to be shrouded in doubt and controversy, as every fire expert who has examined the case since the time of his conviction has concluded that the evidence does not support the finding of arson. The tragic deaths of Willingham’s children were likely the result of a terrible accident, not a crime.
Last fall, relatives for Cameron Todd Willingham, working with the Innocence Project, filed an amended petition with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking the state to posthumously pardon him. Family members urged the state to conduct an investigation into Willingham’s wrongful execution based on newly discovered evidence that points to possible false testimony at his trial and possible prosecutorial misconduct.
Take action today! Through the Innocence Project, you can write to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry and ask them to conduct an investigation into Cameron Todd Willingham’s execution. The Willingham family should not have to wait another 10 years for answers.
2013 a Record Year for Exonerations
Unfortunately, the flaws and failures in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham are not unique. According to a new report from the National Registry of Exonerations, 2013 was a “record-breaking” year for exonerations in the United States, with 87 known exonerations, including one death penalty case. Texas led all states with 13 exonerations. Here are some highlights of the report, “Exonerations in 2013”:
- 27 of the exonerations last year occurred in cases in which no crime in fact happened, a record number.
- 15 known exonerations in 2013 occurred in cases in which the defendants were convicted after pleading guilty, also a record number.
- DNA evidence is playing a diminishing role in exonerations and accounted for only a fifth of the total number of exonerations in 2013.
- At least 1,304 prisoners falsely convicted of crimes have been exonerated over the past 25 years.