"Posthumous Pardon Is Denied for Man Executed in 3 Deaths," is the brief item in today's New York Times by John Schwartz.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles denied a request for a posthumous pardon for Cameron Todd Willingham, a man executed in 2004 after being convicted of setting his house on fire and killing his three young daughters. Members of Mr. Willingham’s family and the Innocence Project in New York requested the pardon, noting that the arson science used to convict Mr. Willingham had long been questioned and presenting new evidence suggesting a secret deal between the prosecutor and a jailhouse informant.
"State rejects pardon for executed Texan," is by Chuck Lindell in the Austin American-Statesman.
Cameron Todd Willingham will not be granted a posthumous pardon after his 2004 execution, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles said Thursday.
Defense lawyers requested the pardon in February, saying newly discovered evidence supported claims that Willingham did not set the 1991 fire that killed his three young daughters in their Corsicana home.
But according to a one-page letter sent Thursday to defense lawyers and prosecutors, an unspecified majority of the Board of Pardons and Paroles “decided not to recommend” that Gov. Rick Perry grant a posthumous full pardon. The letter offered no details about the board’s March 14 deliberations or any reasons for denying the request.
Minutes from the meeting, provided by the agency, show the vote was 7-0 against recommending a pardon but provided no additional details about deliberations.
Willingham lawyer Barry Scheck, co-founder of the Innocence Project in New York, said the parole board’s terse denial “illustrates that the clemency system is completely broken in Texas.”
The Houston Chronicle reports, "Pardons board rejects plea for posthumous pardon in Corsicana murder," by Allan Turner.
Lawyers with the New York-based Innocence Project had asked the board of a posthumous pardon for Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted, they claimed, on "discredited" evidence regarding the 1991 fire. Lawyers also contended that jurors in Willingham's trial were not apprised that a criminal testifying against the defendant had been offered a reduced sentence for his courtroom appearance.
Such a disclosure, the Innocence Project argued, might have affected the jury's verdict.
"The board's indifference to the question of Willingham's innocence as well as the integrity of the information it relies on in making its decision highlights the dire need of reform," Innocence Project co-director Barry Scheck said in a statement. He called on Gov. Rick Perry to acknowledge Willingham's wrongful execution and call on the pardons board to conduct a full investion.
"Willingham Won't Get Posthumous Pardon," is by Brandi Grissom, Edgar Walters, and Terri Langford for the Texas Tribune.
Lawyers from the New York-based Innocence Project say a newly discovered note in the files of John Jackson, the prosecutor who oversaw his conviction, suggests that Jackson made a deal with a jailhouse informant, Johnny Webb, who testified against Willingham. At Jackson's prompting, Webb told jurors during the trial that he received nothing in exchange for his testimony implicating the Willingham in the case.
Webb, then an inmate serving time for a first-degree robbery charge, said Willingham had confessed to him.
The note, scribbled within the district attorney’s file folder, said “based on coop in Willingham,” Webb was to receive a less severe second-degree classification, as opposed to the first-degree charge he was convicted on, according to the Innocence Project.
Jackson, who is now a state district judge, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
Earlier coverage of Todd Willingham begins at the link.
All related coverage is in the Todd Willingham category index.
The Innocence Project has a Todd Willingham resource page which provides a concise overview of the Willingham case with links to all relevant documents.
David Grann's September 2009 New Yorker article is noted here. Steve Mills and Maurice Possley first reported on the case in a 2004 Chicago Tribune series on junk science. The December 9, 2004 report was titled,"Man executed on disproved forensics."