Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted for the 1991 arson murders of his three daughters. He maintained his innocence until his execution in 2004. However, this case would not have even made it to court today knowing what we now know about fire science.
Willingham is one of 236 people put to death in the state of Texas since Rick Perry has been governor. That gives Governor Perry the distinction of overseeing more executions than any other governor in U. S. history. This case raises the questions: has the state executed an innocent person?, what more could the state do to prevent executing innocent people?, and how has politics influenced justice?
In 2009, the New Yorker published an article by David Grann which raised significant questions about the evidence used in Willingham’s trial. The film, Incendiary: the Willingham Case, builds on that article and traces the political outfall in the state of Texas. On today’s show, filmmakers Joe Baily, Jr. and Steve Mims discuss the mystery, the forensic evidence, and the politics surrounding this controversial case.
Incendiary: the Willingham Case, the film site: http://www.incendiarymovie.com/INCENDIARY/INCENDIARY.html
New Yorker’s Trial by Fire: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/09/07/090907fa_fact_grann
What did Rick Perry Know and When Did He Know It?: http://swampland.time.com/2011/09/27/the-controversial-willingham-case-what-rick-perry-knew-and-when/