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Texas judge to examine if executed man was innocent

danarhea

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AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas judge will consider this week whether a man the state executed in 2004 for killing his three toddlers in a house fire was actually innocent of the crimes.


If the court exonerates Cameron Todd Willingham he will be the first person officially declared innocent after being executed in the modern era of US capital punishment.


"This is a watershed case that may break some new ground," said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

This, of course, is the infamous case where Governor Rick Perry replaced the Forensic Science Board, as they were about to investigate the case, with 3 political appointees, who then shut down the investigation.

This is also why I am against the death penalty. If it were infallible, I would be the first to volunteer to "throw the switch" on the condemned. But the death penalty is not worth the state-sanctioned murder of innocent people. Not even if it were only one. I don't support murder, legal or otherwise, and that is exactly what this execution was - A murder.

Article is here.
 
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Hatuey

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Good intentioned and all, but this just seems a redundant waste of resources.

All it takes is a single wrongful execution to make the state guilty of murder. This might not seem like a huge issue to you as Australia has abolished the death penalty but to most people who oppose the death penalty in America it is a matter of shutting down an outdated practice.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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Innocent people will always slip through the cracks and get convicted. It doesn't matter whether we have the death penalty or not, because innocent people will still have their lives and their reputations ruined and many of them will die in jail before they can be exonerated. A lot more people would die if we didn't have a justice system at all.

The best thing we can do is improve the process so that fewer mistakes get made, and prevent the disgusting politicization of the process that prevents proper investigations to occur.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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All it takes is a single wrongful execution to make the state guilty of murder.

Hell of a lot more innocent people die in war. People are always going to die, and there's nothing we can do about it. You can't make an omelette without cracking eggs, and you can't make a society without cracking skulls.
 

Your Star

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Innocent people will always slip through the cracks and get convicted. It doesn't matter whether we have the death penalty or not, because innocent people will still have their lives and their reputations ruined and many of them will die in jail before they can be exonerated. A lot more people would die if we didn't have a justice system at all.

The best thing we can do is improve the process so that fewer mistakes get made, and prevent the disgusting politicization of the process that prevents proper investigations to occur.

Yes, but a person who's been in jail for 20 years, and is found innocent still has a chance to live, while an executed person doesn't have that chance. IMO, it's not worth the risk of killing just one innocent person to keep the death penalty going.
 

Councilman

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This, of course, is the infamous case where Governor Rick Perry replaced the Forensic Science Board, as they were about to investigate the case, with 3 political appointees, who then shut down the investigation.

This is also why I am against the death penalty. If it were infallible, I would be the first to volunteer to "throw the switch" on the condemned. But the death penalty is not worth the state-sanctioned murder of innocent people. Not even if it were only one. I don't support murder, legal or otherwise, and that is exactly what this execution was - A murder.

Article is here.

I remember this case very well it was a huge topic of conversation on the Radio at the time. I was saying back then when the story first came out that Perry seemed to making a decision based on political expedience rather than Justice.

I disagree with this statement from the story:
"This is a watershed case that may break some new ground," said Richard Dieter, director of the Death Penalty Information Center.

I see this as a chance to show that we have a system where Justice will win out in the end be corrected when found to be less than JUST to anyone is altered for the better to avoid the use of the ultimate power of any elected office for political gain under some serious penalty.
 

PeteEU

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This, of course, is the infamous case where Governor Rick Perry replaced the Forensic Science Board, as they were about to investigate the case, with 3 political appointees, who then shut down the investigation.

This is also why I am against the death penalty. If it were infallible, I would be the first to volunteer to "throw the switch" on the condemned. But the death penalty is not worth the state-sanctioned murder of innocent people. Not even if it were only one. I don't support murder, legal or otherwise, and that is exactly what this execution was - A murder.

Article is here.

If he was found innocent, does that not mean that Perry and the FSB of the time at best are guilty of manslaughter and at worst 1st degree murder? Or has Perry given himself and them amnesty?
 

Hatuey

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Hell of a lot more innocent people die in war. People are always going to die, and there's nothing we can do about it. You can't make an omelette without cracking eggs, and you can't make a society without cracking skulls.

Korimyr, don't take this as an insult as you're one of the few posters here who I actually have some sort of respect for, but that to me seems a ridiculous comparison. You don't go to war and purposely kill civilians. They're casualties of war and yes, they make the state just as complicit in the deaths of innocent people but I find intent plays a crucial role. I guess what I'm trying to say I see your argument as essentially saying 'all loss of innocent human life is equal and all has the same room for error'. I strongly disagree with that view. Likewise, you could argue that the death penalty was not designed to destroy innocent people but I think the fact that we have far more control over the death penalty than over who may die during a war makes a huge difference.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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Yes, but a person who's been in jail for 20 years, and is found innocent still has a chance to live, while an executed person doesn't have that chance. IMO, it's not worth the risk of killing just one innocent person to keep the death penalty going.

What about the innocent person who is sentenced to prison for 20 years... and dies before he makes it to 5? He's just as innocent and just as dead as the man wrongly executed. Or the man who serves his full 20 year term before he's exonerated-- his life and his reputation can never be restored to what they were before the State made an error. That's really the basis of my argument: no matter what the State's policies are, the one thing they have in common is that the State's mistakes can never be undone. We have to do the best we can, with the understanding that mistakes will be made and we will have to live with them.

You don't go to war and purposely kill civilians. They're casualties of war and yes, they make the state just as complicit in the deaths of innocent people but I find intent plays a crucial role.

I think you and I have different understandings of "intent". From my perspective, if you know that an action has certain consequences, and you perform that action anyway, you are responsible for those consequences-- the blood is on your hands whether you wanted it there or not. I consider it an aspect of moral maturity to recognize that all actions have certain negative consequences, and that being a moral person means having to make decisions knowing that there will be negative consequences and having to live with those consequences.

I guess what I'm trying to say I see your argument as essentially saying 'all loss of innocent human life is equal and all has the same room for error'. I strongly disagree with that view. Likewise, you could argue that the death penalty was not designed to destroy innocent people but I think the fact that we have far more control over the death penalty than over who may die during a war makes a huge difference.

We know that innocent people will die regardless. Everyone dies. Abolishing the death penalty will cause innocent people to die-- just different innocent people than the ones the death penalty claims. It is all a matter of whose blood we would rather have on our hands and how much.
 

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"Abolishing the death penalty will cause innocent people to die-- just different innocent people than the ones the death penalty claims."

Who the hell dies if a person in is in a cement casket while breathing instead of a wooden one while not?

What the hell's even the point of the death penalty. If you need a deturrent to prevent you from murder, like death instead of life in prison, your probably not gonna give a ****. Please enter logic at any time.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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Who the hell dies if a person in is in a cement casket while breathing instead of a wooden one while not?

Other prisoners. Possibly other people, after the prisoner has served their sentence, or escaped, or otherwise been released.

What the hell's even the point of the death penalty.

Some people are too dangerous to exist. The death penalty removes them.
 

d0gbreath

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Regardless of whether anyone supports the death penalty or not, this case needs to be investigated. Much like the Texas dog expert, the victim was convicted by a jury on 'expert' testimony by a fire expert that testified that the fire was started intentionally. The junk science that the expert used to solve the crime has since been proven to be a false method.

Just another Texas hang-em-high prosecution witness.
 

Aunt Spiker

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Come against why couldn't they prove his innocence before his execution?

That's what everyone harps on when they oppose it (or, one thing they harp on) that it takes *years* and they have to prove and prove again that they're guilty - and it takes lots of money, lots of court tango.

So why didn't they have time or evidence before his execution to prove his innocence during all this court tango and time?

If they're *just now* coming up with evidence after all this time to prove that he's *innocent* I say they're horrible at their jobs (yes - like his lawyer) and everyone should be investigated for an immense lack of give-a-****.
 

d0gbreath

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Come against why couldn't they prove his innocence before his execution?

That's what everyone harps on when they oppose it (or, one thing they harp on) that it takes *years* and they have to prove and prove again that they're guilty - and it takes lots of money, lots of court tango.

So why didn't they have time or evidence before his execution to prove his innocence during all this court tango and time?

If they're *just now* coming up with evidence after all this time to prove that he's *innocent* I say they're horrible at their jobs (yes - like his lawyer) and everyone should be investigated for an immense lack of give-a-****.

I watched a special on TV where they said that after exonerating an inmate with solid DNA evidence, it still took almost three years to get them out of prison. The reason? The prosecutors don't like to admit mistakes.
 

Aunt Spiker

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I watched a special on TV where they said that after exonerating an inmate with solid DNA evidence, it still took almost three years to get them out of prison. The reason? The prosecutors don't like to admit mistakes.

And this is why I currently don't support it.

Generally I *do* support the death penalty - yes - but not when mistakes and mishaps and *oops, you're not the guy we're looking for* is a SERIOUS problem.
Every year HUNDREDS are released from death row (either a reduction in their sentence, punishment - or found to be innocent). I researched to support my 'pro-death-penalty' view and came across this information. A few hundred is WAY to many. When I found that info I held the belief that *maybe* there was 5 or 10 each year - odd and unusual circumstances. But nope, it's very common - immediately made me change my mind.

So I won't support it until they fix the system - and if they never fix the system then I guess I'll never support it.

I'm sure this guy's not the *first* innocent person to have been put to death - definitely not the first.
 
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JakeFromWI

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Come against why couldn't they prove his innocence before his execution?

Lol. Because that's not how the system works. In fact, any American who says a statement like that needs to do thier homework before they have any opinion.

The aforementioned argument was in regards to the "proof of guilt" not being proof. It's hard to prove yourself innocent if your assumed innocent because of a lie....

I can't believe as a collective USA, some jury members think the defendant must prove his/her innocence before they are murdered by the "expansive, overreaching, federal government."
 
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Deuce

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Other prisoners. Possibly other people, after the prisoner has served their sentence, or escaped, or otherwise been released.



Some people are too dangerous to exist. The death penalty removes them.

Life imprisonment in supermax is both cheaper and reversible if it turns out the conviction was wrong. This moral relativism thing you're playing is just absurd. People will die anyway, therefore we shouldn't bother trying to prevent it? Easy to say, except when you're the man who lost his children in a horrible accident and then proceeds to get executed for it.
 

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Hell of a lot more innocent people die in war. People are always going to die, and there's nothing we can do about it. You can't make an omelette without cracking eggs, and you can't make a society without cracking skulls.

So, becuase people die in another context, it's ok if they die in this context? I don't buy that. Yes, we will alwyas make mistakes. But the higher the [price paid, the less we will be able to make amends. Taking a life means that we took something we can't remotely give back or compensate for. When we execute a person wrongly, we make a greivous error that can't really be made right. Not even remotely.

And I'm not sure we save any lives by the state killing people, certainly not enough to justify killing innocent people.
 

Jetboogieman

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You know one thing though.

If you gave me the option of death now, or 20 years in prison. I'd choose the death now.

A guy who looks like me I think would be a reciever if you get my drift.

However, give me the choice between 20 years in prison and then death, or life in prison with the possibility of being released, and I'd choose the latter.
 

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You know one thing though.

If you gave me the option of death now, or 20 years in prison. I'd choose the death now.

A guy who looks like me I think would be a reciever if you get my drift.

However, give me the choice between 20 years in prison and then death, or life in prison with the possibility of being released, and I'd choose the latter.

We should be able to find a way to stop the reciever bit.

But I understand your point.
 

Korimyr the Rat

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Life imprisonment in supermax is both cheaper and reversible if it turns out the conviction was wrong.

When we execute a person wrongly, we make a greivous error that can't really be made right. Not even remotely.

You're both operating under the horribly mistaken assumption that releasing a person from prison "makes amends" for the years of their life that have been stolen and the damage to their reputation and the trauma they've endured. When you convict a person wrongly, no matter what the sentence, you cannot make it right. There is nothing that society can do to make it right. That means, regardless of what criminal sentences we use, the only way to have justice is to make sure our justice system makes as few mistakes as possible in the first place.
 

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You're both operating under the horribly mistaken assumption that releasing a person from prison "makes amends" for the years of their life that have been stolen and the damage to their reputation and the trauma they've endured. When you convict a person wrongly, no matter what the sentence, you cannot make it right. There is nothing that society can do to make it right. That means, regardless of what criminal sentences we use, the only way to have justice is to make sure our justice system makes as few mistakes as possible in the first place.

It's a hell of a lot better than being dead. Dead, there is nothing that can be done. Alive, I might still find something for me. I think you misread what is being said. Alive, I might see my wife again, hug my child, know some pleasure agian. Dead, there is nothing.

I do not argue all amends can be made. Only that alive, there is still something for me.
 

OscarB63

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Yes, but a person who's been in jail for 20 years, and is found innocent still has a chance to live, while an executed person doesn't have that chance. IMO, it's not worth the risk of killing just one innocent person to keep the death penalty going.

personally, If I was wrongly convicted, I think i would rather be executed quickly than have to spend the next 30-40 years in prison.
 

Boo Radley

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personally, If I was wrongly convicted, I think i would rather be executed quickly than have to spend the next 30-40 years in prison.

I understand that feeling, but also understand others wouldn't want that. And it might be interesting if we saw how would we really react if we were in the situation, innocent and convicted, how we would respond.
 
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