Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The evidence Rick Perry can't bury: The Beyler Report debunking Cameron Todd Willingham's 'arson'


Watch Death By Fire on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

During a Gov. Rick Perry reelection campaign in the 90s, The Texas Forensic Science Commission, acting on a reexamination by the foremost arson scientist in America, Gerald Hurst, produced the so-called Beyler report, which said that the arson findings that led to the conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham were based on "folklore."

Logo by Patricia Turner for the Texas Moratorium Network
Candidate Perry found this to be an inconvenient truth, so, just before the Beyler report was to be presented, he fired the commission's Chairman, Sam Bassett. In all Perry fired three members of the commission, then installed a political ally, prosecutor John Bradley as the new chairman.

John Lentini, Arson Expert:
The Beyler report is point for point a confirmation a confirmation of the original Hurst report that all 20 of the indicators were wrong. The State of Texas executed a man for a crime that they couldn't prove was really a crime and the evidence said "This is an accidental fire."  And if it was an accidental fire, it doesn matter how many posters of Iron Maiden Cameron Rodd Willingham had on his wall or Led Zepplin or whether he liked to play darts or drink beer or whether he smacked his wife around. It only matters that the fire was not really a set fire.
Sam Bassett, former chairman, Texas Forensic Science Commission, fired by Gov. Rick Perry:
"If we make a mistake, are we going to learn from it or are we going to sweep it under the rug and act like nothing happened?"

1 comment:

  1. I read David Grann's article in the New Yorker and I'm watching the Front Line program about it right this minute -- what a travesty. This kind of injustice makes you sick, and the fact that it was preventable, that an innocent man was put to death based on political maneuvering -- I can't imagine what Willingham went through. In the end, it wouldn't be surprising that he went to his death willingly, unable to imagine living in a world where ignorance, apathy and plain old lies govern your fate, a world where innocence counts for nothing and the truth is irrelevant to the outcome. Kafka couldn't have written a sicker, more ludicrous plot than this one that took place in Texas in a time when science could have saved a man if his executioners had been righteous -- if those who could have saved him been willing to care that justice was truly done. Instead, they wanted a spectacle, and we got one.

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