Friday, February 28, 2014

Bulletin: Cameron Todd Willingham; Texas; Stunning revelation from the Innocence Project: New evidence suggests that his prosecutor deceived the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles about the testimony of a jailhouse informant in the state's bid to block a stay of execution. The Innocence Project;

RELEASE: "New evidence suggests Cameron Todd Willingham prosecutor deceived Board of Pardons and Paroles about informant testimony in opposition to stay of execution."

GIST: "The Innocence Project has filed new documents with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in its posthumous pardon petition for Cameron Todd Willingham pointing to new evidence, including a notation on the DA’s own file, strongly suggesting that jailhouse informant, Johnny Webb, received a deal from Navarro County District Attorney John Jackson in exchange for his testimony. This new evidence also strongly suggest that Jackson, who had since become a district court judge, deceived the Board of Pardons and Paroles and the Navarro County District Attorney’s Office about the existence of a deal, which had they known about, would have almost certainly spared Willingham’s life.........
After Willingham’s execution, the Innocence Project asked the then newly formed Texas Forensic Science Commission to investigate Willingham’s case and the case of Ernest Willis who was convicted based on similarly flawed evidence but later exonerated for the arson murder that put him on death row.  During the course of that multi-year investigation, nine of the nation’s leading arson scientists reviewed the evidence in Willingham’s case and all agreed that the original testimony of the fire investigators was based on outdated arson science. A summary of these findings is available at The commission was ultimately barred by the Texas Attorney General from making a finding on whether the state was negligent in the wrongful execution of Willingham, however the commission acknowledged that unreliable arson science facilitated Willingham’s conviction and recommended that the state conduct a review to determine if there are other people in Texas prisons who were wrongly convicted based on faulty arson science. The new evidence the Innocence Project submitted to the Board of Pardons and Paroles earlier this month casts even further doubt on the highly unreliable testimony of Webb who incredibly claimed that Willingham told him within earshot of several law enforcement employees that he committed the crime to protect his wife who had injured or killed one of the children the night before."  

The entire release can be found at:

See related New York Times story by reporter John Schwartz: "What has changed is that investigators for the Innocence Project have discovered a curt handwritten note in Mr. Webb’s file in the district attorney’s office in Corsicana. The current district attorney, R. Lowell Thompson, made the files available to the Innocence Project lawyers, and in late November one of the lawyers, Bryce Benjet, received a box of photocopies. As he worked through the stack of papers, he saw a note scrawled on the inside of the district attorney’s file folder stating that Mr. Webb’s charges were to be listed as robbery in the second degree, not the heavier first-degree robbery charge he had originally been convicted on, “based on coop in Willingham.” Mr. Benjet recalled a “rush of excitement,” he said, and thought, “This is what we’ve been looking for.” The Innocence Project submitted the note, which is not dated or signed, in a new filing to the board asking that it be included as part of its September request for a pardon. Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project, called the note a “smoking pistol” in the case. “We’re reaching out to the principals to see if there is an innocent explanation for this,” he said. “I don’t see one.”"


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