Tuesday, August 16, 2011


"Perry's big Texas record is getting a thorough combing-over by the media and political critics, about everything from his mandate requiring young girls to get HPV vaccines to his presiding over the largest number of executions under any governor. One particular case that could cause problems for the governor is that of Cameron Todd Willingham, a Texas man convicted of killing his kids by arson and executed in 2004 despite claims that the science used in his case may have been flawed."



BACKGROUND: (Wikipedia); Cameron Todd Willingham (January 9, 1968 – February 17, 2004), born in Carter County, Oklahoma, was sentenced to death by the state of Texas for murdering his three daughters—two year old Amber Louise Kuykendall, and one year old twins Karmon Diane Willingham and Kameron Marie Willingham— by setting his house on fire. The fire occurred on December 23, 1991 in Corsicana, Texas. Lighter fluid was kept on the front porch of Willingham’s house as evidenced by a melted container found there. Some of this fluid may have entered the front doorway of the house carried along by fire hose water. It was alleged this fluid was deliberately poured to start the fire and that Willingham chose this entrance way so as to impede rescue attempts. The prosecution also used other arson theories that have since been brought into question. In addition to the arson evidence, a jailhouse informant claimed Willingham confessed that he set the fire to hide his wife's physical abuse of the girls, although the girls showed no other injuries besides those caused by the fire. Neighbors also testified that Willingham did not try hard enough to save his children. They allege he "crouched down" in his front yard and watched the house burn for a period of time without attempting to enter the home or go to neighbors for help or request they call firefighters. He claimed that he tried to go back into the house but it was "too hot". As firefighters arrived, however, he rushed towards the garage and pushed his car away from the burning building, requesting firefighters do the same rather than put out the fire. After the fire, Willingham showed no emotion at the death of his children and spent the next day sorting through the debris, laughing and playing music. He expressed anger after finding his dartboard burned in the fire. Firefighters and other witnesses were suspicious of how he reacted during and after the fire. Willingham was charged with murder on January 8, 1992. During his trial in August 1992, he was offered a life term in exchange for a guilty plea, which he turned down insisting he was innocent. After his conviction, he and his wife divorced. She later stated that she believed that Willingham was guilty. Prosecutors alleged this was part of a pattern of behavior intended to rid himself of his children. Willingham had a history of committing crimes, including burglary, grand larceny and car theft. There was also an incident when he beat his pregnant wife over the stomach with a telephone to induce a miscarriage. When asked if he had a final statement, Willingham said: "Yeah. The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man - convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do. From God's dust I came and to dust I will return - so the earth shall become my throne. I gotta go, road dog. I love you Gabby." However, his final words were directed at his ex-wife, Stacy Willingham. He turned to her and said "I hope you rot in hell, bitch" several times while attempting to extend his middle finger in an obscene gesture. His ex-wife did not show any reaction to this. He was executed by lethal injection on February 17, 2004. Subsequent to that date, persistent questions have been raised as to the accuracy of the forensic evidence used in the conviction, specifically, whether it can be proven that an accelerant (such as the lighter fluid mentioned above) was used to start the fatal fire. Fire investigator Gerald L. Hurst reviewed the case documents including the trial transcriptions and an hour-long videotape of the aftermath of the fire scene. Hurst said, "There's nothing to suggest to any reasonable arson investigator that this was an arson fire. It was just a fire. Legendary "Innocence" lawyer Barry Scheck asked participants at a conference of the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers held in Toronto in August, 2010, how Willingham, who had lost his family to the fire, must have felt to hear the horrific allegations made against him on the basis of the bogus evidence, "and nobody pays any attention to it as he gets executed." "It's the Dreyfus Affair, and you all know what that is," Scheck continued. "It's the Dreyfus AffaIr of the United States. Luke Power's music video "Texas Death Row Blues," can be found at:

For an important critique of the devastating state of arson investigation in America with particular reference to the Willingham and Willis cases, go to:



"Texas Gov. Rick Perry appears to be making no apologies for a comment on the 2012 campaign trail in which he suggested Texans might want to rough up Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke if he tries to tackle the economic slump by printing more money,"
the Fox News story published earlier today under the heading, "Perry Faces Texas-Sized Scrutiny," begins.

""The governor was expressing his frustration with the current economic situation and the out of control spending that persists in Washington," Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner told Fox News on Tuesday. "Most Americans would agree that spending more money is not the answer to the economic issues facing the country,"
the story continues.

"The low-key delivery of the remark, captured on camera Monday, the same day Perry filed his candidacy papers, earned laughs from the audience in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

"If this guy prints more money between now and the election, I don't know what y'all would do to him in Iowa, but we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas," Perry said. "I mean, printing more money to play politics at this particular time in American history is almost ... treasonous in my opinion."

But the video quickly made its way around the blogosphere and drew swift criticism, including from corners of expected support. Tony Fratto, former spokesman for President George W. Bush, said on his Twitter account that the comments were "inappropriate and unpresidential."

Ex-Bush adviser and Fox News analyst Karl Rove echoed the complaint, calling Perry's remarks "very unfortunate."

The reaction is just a taste of the scrutiny Perry is going to face and demonstrates the perils of being in the public eye 24-7. As the longest-serving governor in the country, Perry has a record to run on. But he also has a record to be picked apart.

To defend it, Perry will need to summon the folksy eloquence that got him this far. But outside of Texas, his speech-ifying could be a double-edged sword. Though an instant frontrunner in the Republican presidential primary, Perry faces the challenge of sounding more than a bit like George W. Bush, the other Texas governor who ran -- successfully -- for president, but left office with low approval ratings.

Perry told Fox News on Monday that he's no carbon copy of Bush. "I tell people, I say, one of the quickest ways you can tell the difference is, you know, he's a Yale graduate, I'm a Texas A&M graduate."

Even Rove acknowledged that Perry has to "fight the impression that he's a cowboy from Texas." But the Bush confidante urged Perry to distinguish himself from Bush more respectfully. Rove, claiming Bush moved "heaven and earth" to help elect Perry as his lieutenant governor in Texas, said "it sounds like" Perry's being ungrateful. Rove said, this time, he chalks it up to Perry being on the national stage for the first time.

"No matter how big politics is in Texas, it's much bigger and much more different on a national stage," Rove said.

Perry's big Texas record is getting a thorough combing-over by the media and political critics, about everything from his mandate requiring young girls to get HPV vaccines to his presiding over the largest number of executions under any governor. One particular case that could cause problems for the governor is that of Cameron Todd Willingham, a Texas man convicted of killing his kids by arson and executed in 2004 despite claims that the science used in his case may have been flawed.

Already, Perry was questioned Monday about his post as Al Gore's Texas campaign chairman during Gore's unsuccessful 1988 bid for president. Perry claimed these were the days before Gore was "Mr. Global Warming." Politico.com noted that Gore was talking about global warming before his 1988 bid but his backers say that Perry and Gore obviously didn't agree on everything.

Ex-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also tweaked Perry in an interview on MSNBC Tuesday morning when Gibbs questioned how the governor who famously suggested a Texas secession from the U.S. is now seeking to lead the entire nation.

"Just two years ago, the governor of Texas openly talked about leading Texas out of the United States of America -- and now this campaign has caused him to profess his love for the United States. I think it's a remarkable turnaround," Gibbs said.

Perry will have to defend his claim that he is a jobs governor, presiding over a state that created 40 percent of new jobs in America since June 2009. He attributes the growth to low taxes and fewer regulations, but opponents argue the windfall can be traced in part to the state's oil and gas sector -- helped along by rising oil prices that Perry could not control.

The state unemployment level is at 8.2 percent, high, but below the national average and attributable in part to an upswing in the state's population due to relocations from other parts of the country attracted to a growing economy.

But Perry's true baptism into the race may have come when ex-President Bill Clinton gave him some ribbing from afar, at an event in New York. Clinton touched on Perry's budding candidacy, calling the governor a "good-looking rascal" and saying he's "tickled" by his campaign announcement.

"He said, you know I'm going to Washington to make sure that the federal government stays as far away from you as possible -- while I ride on Air Force One and that Marine One helicopter and go to Camp David and travel around the world and have a good time. I mean, this is crazy," Clinton said.


The story can be found at:



PUBLISHER'S NOTE: 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:


Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog; hlevy15@gmail.com;