Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cameron Todd Willingham: New evidence revives concerns that Texas wrongly executed him in 2004. Maurice Possley. The Marshall Project. (Must Read. HL);

STORY: "Fresh doubts over a Texas execution: New evidence revives concerns that a man was wrongly put to death in 2004," by Maurice Possley, The Marshall Project, published by the Washington Post on August 3, 2014.  (About this project: The investigation was reported and written by Maurice Possley for The Marshall Project, a new nonprofit news organization focused on the criminal justice system.")

GIST:  Since Willingham was executed in 2004, officials have continued to defend the account of the informer, Johnny E. Webb, even as a series of scientific experts have discredited the forensic evidence that Willingham might have deliberately set the house fire in which his toddlers were killed. But now new evidence has revived questions about Willingham’s guilt: In taped interviews, Webb, who has previously both recanted and affirmed his testimony, gives his first detailed account of how he lied on the witness stand in return for efforts by the former prosecutor, John H. Jackson, to reduce Webb’s prison sentence for robbery and to arrange thousands of dollars in support from a wealthy Corsicana rancher. Newly uncovered letters and court files show that Jackson worked diligently to intercede for Webb after his testimony and to coordinate with the rancher, Charles S. Pearce Jr., to keep the mercurial informer in line. “Mr. Pierce and I visit on a regular basis concerning your problems,” Jackson wrote to Webb in August 2000, eight years after the trial, when his former witness was threatening to recant. (Jackson misspelled the rancher’s last name.) “We worked for a long time on a number of different levels, including the Governor’s Office, to get you released early in the robbery case. . . . Please understand that I am not indifferent or insensitive to your difficulties.” Along with Webb’s account, the letters and documents expose a determined, years-long effort by the prosecutor to alter Webb’s conviction, speed his parole, get him clemency and move him from a tough state prison back to his hometown jail. Had such favorable treatment been revealed prior to his execution, Willingham might have had grounds to seek a new trial."

The entire story can be found at: 


See also Daily Kos story:  "Cameron Todd Willingham, John Jackson, Ricky Perry and the execution of an innocent man."... "The Washington Post has just published an article headlined "Fresh doubts over a Texas execution" on the front page of their website; it blows open the case involving the execution of Todd Willingham, the execution of an innocent man. Todd Willingham was convicted of killing all three of his children by arson and executed in Texas in 2004.  Prior to his execution there was compelling evidence that the forensic 'science' used in the trial to convict him was little more than amateur spit-balling at best, and the new forensic evidence could have been reviewed by Gov. Rick Perry but he refused and Todd Willingham was executed. The Post's story focuses not on the exculpatory forensic evidence, but the conduct of the prosecutor, John Jackson:
"In a grievance filed July 25 with the State Bar of Texas, the Innocence Project, a New York-based advocacy group that has investigated the Willingham case for a decade, argued that Jackson’s conduct “violated his professional, ethical and constitutional obligations.” The group called for a full investigation of Jackson’s handling of the case and argued that he could be sanctioned or even criminally prosecuted for falsifying official records, withholding evidence from the defense, suborning perjury and obstructing justice." Jackson spent years working to ensure that the star jail house witness who testified against Willingham, Johnny Webb, gave the testimony to begin with and then didn't recant it in the ensuing years by funneling money through a wealthy local citizen, Charles Pearce.  Pearce gave thousands of dollars to Webb over the years to ensure his cooperation and silence, but Pearce died in 2008 and now Webb is talking. The State of Texas executed an innocent man who lost his three children in a tragic fire.  Rick Perry had the power to keep this from happening but he was too anxious to chalk up another execution on his score board to even consider that as a possibility. If this doesn't end Rick Perry's further political aspirations then we do live in a sad, sad, time."


Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:


Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:
I look forward to hearing from readers at:


Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;