Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004 by the state of Texas for setting a fire that killed his three young children.
We’ve reported numerous times on this blog about the Cameron Todd Willingham case, and here is just one of those articles - Will Texas Admit It Executed an Innocent Man?
It’s clear to even the casual observer of this case that Todd Wilingham was wrongfully convicted and wrongfully executed. The State used now-debunked junk science in determining the fire that killed the Willingham children was arson. The case is carefully documented in the award winning film Incendiary: The Willingham Case.
And now, another snake has just slithered out of the pit that the Texas justice system has made of this case. It’s been revealed that the Willingham prosecutor, John Jackson, made a secret deal with jailhouse snitch, Johnny Webb, in return for his testimony that Willingham had confessed the crime to him in prison. And further, that Jackson then concealed this deal from the Texas Board of Paroles and Pardons which was considering a stay of execution for Willingham.
Reported here by the Innocence Project - New Evidence Suggests Cameron Todd Willingham Prosecutor Deceived Board of Pardons and Paroles About Informant Testimony in Opposition to Stay of Execution.
Read the stories from the New York Times here, and the Manchester Guardian here.
It was just a year ago that we posted about dog scent lineups. At the time, we called it “one of the junkiest of the junk sciences.” This opinion is echoed in a law suit filed just this week by a Texas woman, Megan Winfrey. Ms. Winfrey spent 6 years in prison before her murder conviction, based on a dog scent lineup, was overturned. Her suit calls dog scent lineups “the worst of junk science.”
Interestingly, the primary defendant in Winfrey’s suit is former Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Pickett. Pickett was identified in our earlier post as being the most infamous and notorious dog handler performing bogus dog scent lineups. Four other officers, including the San Jacinto County Sheriff, are also named in the suit as being complicit in her wrongful conviction.
You can read the NBC News story about the Winfrey suit here, which contains a link to the actual law suit.
Jason Kreag has posted Letting Innocence Suffer: The Need for Defense Access to the Law Enforcement DNA Database on SSRN. Download here. The abstract states:
Law enforcement has gradually amassed a sizable DNA database that holds considerable promise for solving cold cases and identifying suspects. The Supreme Court has blessed this effort, allowing investigators to include profiles of arrestees as well as convicted persons in the database. At present, though, law enforcement has a near monopoly on use of the DNA database, leaving defendants at the whim of the law enforcement officials who control access to this tool. Legal scholars have alternatively praised and decried the database, but none has examined its prospects for proving defendants’ innocence post-conviction. This Article fills that void by identifying a limited due process right to defense-initiated DNA database searches. The Article argues that the database is a powerful truth-promoting tool that should be available to law enforcement and defendants alike. Because legislators have failed to promote the search for actual offenders through statutory rights of access, this Article presents the constitutional authority for defense-initiated searches to vindicate the rights of innocent defendants.
- Is forensic odontology too unreliable?
- Exoneree Johnathan Montgomery takes it one day at a time
- Missouri considers eyewitness identification reform and DNA preservation bill
- Greg Wilhoit, a former Oklahoma death-row inmate from Tulsa and nationally-known anti-death penalty advocate whose story was included in author John Grisham’s “The Innocent Man,” died Feb. 14 in Sacramento, Calif., family members said. He was 59. Full article here…
- Upcoming symposium at the Penn Quattrone Center: A Systems Approach to Conviction Integrity
Today, in Hinton v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court found the trial attorney’s failure to request funding for a sufficient expert to challenge the State’s ballistics experts constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. Opinion here.
- Exoneree Lana Canan sues Elkhart, Indiana police
- A man convicted of rape nearly four decades ago should be allowed to seek new DNA testing, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday, upholding an earlier Nebraska Court of Appeals ruling. Juneal Pratt, 58, is serving 32 to 90 years for the rape, sexual assault and robbery of two Iowa sisters at an Omaha motel in 1975. He was 19 when he was arrested days after the August 1975 assaults on suspicion of purse-snatching at the same hotel, then quickly charged with the rapes. Several witnesses said Pratt was at home at the time of the attacks, but Pratt was convicted just two months later after the sisters picked him out of a police lineup — a practice that’s increasingly under fire. Full article here….
- A man who was wrongly convicted of a 2006 shooting in Oakland has filed a $32 million federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, alleging that he was maliciously prosecuted. The lawsuit by Ronald Ross, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, accuses Oakland police of conducting a faulty photo lineup that ended with his being improperly identified by the shooting victim, Renardo Williams, as the shooter. Ross spent nearly seven years behind bars before being released last February. Full article here…