Rick Perry Can Run, But He Can't Hide: Pressure Builds to Admit Texas Executed An Innocent Man
By now you've probably heard of Cameron Todd Willingham, the Texas man who was executed in 2004 for supposedly setting a fire that killed his three young daughters. His conviction was based on junk science, prejudice, and wild allegations about his homicidal tendencies based on his tattoos (really). The arson investigation that sent Willingham to the death chamber has been thoroughly debunked by no fewer than six arson experts, leading to one inevitable conclusion: Texas killed an innocent man.
Not surprisingly, Texas Governor Pick Perry, who signed off on Willingham's execution despite alarming proof of his innocence, has gone to great length to suppress this story. In the past two weeks, Perry fired four members of the state Forensic Science Commission -- including its chairman -- 48 hours before it was scheduled to hold a critical hearing on the Willingham case. He has appointed a new Commissioner, John Bradley, a district attorney and "one of the state's most notorious tough-on-crime advocates," according to the Texas Observer. The investigation is now stalled until further notice.
Perry's moves reek of desperation, particularly given his upcoming bid for re-election. His top challenger, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, has seized on the Willingham case, simultaneously using it to discredit her opponent while reaffirming her own pro-death penalty stance. (She accuses Perry of providing "liberals" with ammunition against capital punishment.)