If ever a case cried out for abolition of the death penalty, it is the case of Cameron Todd Willingham [“Fresh doubts over a Texas execution,” front page, Aug. 4]. In 1992, Willingham was convicted of murdering his children by setting his house on fire. His conviction was based on the testimony of forensic experts and a jailhouse informant who said Willingham had confessed to him. Willingham was executed in 2004.
Since the trial, several reports based on opinions of leading arson experts have concluded that the science used to convict Willingham was invalid. In 2009, the Texas Forensic Science Commission investigating the case concluded that the experts who had testified should have known better. However, the Texas attorney general’s office refused to allow the commission to test some evidence.
Now it has become clear that the prosecutor bribed the jailhouse informant for his testimony and no confession was made. If Willingham were still alive, he’d almost certainly be afforded a new trial. But dead men cannot be retried. Plainly, the death penalty has no further justification in our flawed justice system.
S. Michael Scadron, Silver Spring
The writer is a member of the advisory board of Injustice Anywhere.