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Did Texas Execute an Innocent Man?

Cameron Todd Willingham insisted he was innocent of setting his house ablaze, killing his three children. He refused to plead guilty to the murder charges in exchange for a life sentence. But with a seemingly air-tight case against him, Texas condemned him to die. An amazingly detailed piece by The New Yorker's David Grann argues that Willingham was really was innocent and suggests that "Texas could become the first state to acknowledge officially that, since the advent of the modern judicial system, it had carried out the 'execution of a legallly and factually innocent person.'" In his piece, Grann uncovers the untold story: an expert report by acclaimed scientist and fire expert Dr. Gerald Hurst that proved that the initial arson investigation relied on faulty forensic science and that, in fact, the fire was the accidental result of faulty wiring or a space heater. The report's findings, later confirmed by three additional top arson investigators, reached the Board of Pardons in time to save Willingham, although it denied his petition and executed him. Although the board conducts its deliberations in secret, there is no record of anyone acknowledging or commenting on the report. As one board member at the time put it, "We get all kinds of reports, but we don't have the mechanisms to vet them."