Rick Perry for President? The Man with Blood on his Hands
On December 23, 1991, a raging fire engulfed a home in Texas. Police officers handcuffed a hysterical father who was desperately trying to enter the flames in order to save his children.
It wasn’t long before the 23-year-old, father of three found himself inside a courtroom listening to damning evidence and testimony given by fire investigators that implicated him of arson and murder. Although there were several theories about what caused the fire, “gut instincts” led the investigators to conclude it was arson.
Psychiatrists testified that that the young man on trial was a sociopath infatuated with the fires of hell; he owned several posters from the heavy metal bands Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin and had a tattoo of a skull on his arm.1
The case went to the jury. Cameron was found guilty of arson and murder. His punishment was death by lethal injection.
On February 17, 2004, 35-year-old Cameron Todd Willingham asked his mother not to be sad. Unable to embrace his crying parents, he attempted to console them by saying:
In fifty-five minutes, I’m a free man. I’m going home to see my kids.
About an hour later, and after 12 long years, Cameron’s parents were finally able to touch their son again. Cameron was dead.
Cameron’s ashes were scattered above his children’s graves.
1 One of the psychiatrists, James P. Grigson, who testified during the trial was later expelled from the American Psychiatric Association due to ethics violations. Nick-named Dr. Death, the psychiatrist was accused of diagnosing people with psychiatric problems and disorders without visiting/examining the patients/accused in person, yet testifying as an expert witness, and claiming with 100% certainty that the individuals would commit future violent acts.
Now, and seven years later, this saga continues with cover-ups, not only to dissuade a public from supporting the death penalty, but to hide the fact that an inept and forever-imperfect government made up of forever-imperfect human beings will eventually, and maybe more frequently than anyone is willing to admit, make mistakes.
What do you do when you make deadly mistakes?
You hide it.
You especially hide it if you are running for President of the United States.
Every avenue that has been created to ensure that innocent people are not legally murdered failed Cameron Todd Willingham. He was trapped inside of a maze with only one way out that resulted in his death. Every escape route was blocked by laziness, mistakes, dishonesty, and uneducated, untrained “experts".
All of this could possibly be because of a strong desire people have to place the blame on someone...anyone who could have caused the deaths of three beautiful, innocent children.
If there is nobody to blame, there is no answer to the question “why?”
We can pray all we want, but God won’t tell us why He took those children. He won’t tell us why He takes anyone who is innocent and so undeserving.
To answer our “why”, we have made a deadly chair and a deadly concoction. Whoever is forced to sit in the chair or whoever is forced to absorb the concoction is our reason why, and it makes us feel better.
Our Fail-Safe Process is a Failure
In 1997, the Court of Criminal Appeals denied Cameron a hearing to introduce new evidence in his case.
In 2002, a federal district court of appeals denied an appeal for Cameron, even refusing to hold a hearing to listen to the basis of appeal.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Cameron’s case.
In January 2004, Dr. Gerald Hurst wrote a frantic letter to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and he included scientific evidence that discredited all 20-plus arson indicators during the investigation and trial. Dr. Gerald Hurst, with a PhD in chemistry, had exonerated 10 people from arson (including a fellow death row inmate of Cameron’s, his case was nearly a mirror image of circumstances and findings).
Despite Dr. Hurst's credentials and reputation, the Board of Pardons and Paroles did not acknowledge receipt of the findings, nor did the 15-member panel formally document that the findings were reviewed. However, the decision to not grant clemency was unanimous.
The U.S. Supreme Court refers to a governor as a fail-safe mechanism for wrongful executions.
A few hours before Cameron’s execution, Cameron was informed that Governor Rick Perry of Texas did not grant a stay of execution.
A spokesman for Governor Perry said, "The Governor made his decision based on the facts of the case."
Some of the Evidence Sent to the Board and Governor Perry:
Testimony: Manuel Vasquez, fire investigator, testified that liquid accelerant was used because the fire spread fast and burned hot.
Fact: Experiments have proven that wood and gasoline fires burn at the same temperature.
Testimony: Manuel Vasquez and Douglas Fogg both testified that since the front door’s aluminum threshold had melted, liquid accelerant was used.
Fact: A natural-wood fire can reach temperatures of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. The melting point for aluminum alloys is one thousand to twelve hundred degrees Fahrenheit.
Testimony: Manuel Vasquez and Douglas Fogg both testified that a liquid accelerant was used in various locations within the house.
Fact: All the locations were tested where both investigators claimed accelerant had been used. Tests will show positive for mineral spirits when mineral spirits are present. All the tests came out negative for mineral spirits with the exception of one place—the front porch. The front porch did, indeed, have a bottle of lighter fluid on it; however, the charcoal grill was removed from the porch after the fire (but not the lighter fluid). Both investigators claimed to have no knowledge of the grill (they had investigated the scene four days after the fire).
Testimony: Vasquez testified that crazed glass (a pattern often present in glass after a fire), which was present on Cameron’s home windows, would only be present if an accelerant was used as fuel.
Fact: In 1991, a team of fire fighters inspected damaged homes from a brush fire in Oakland, California and found the presence of crazed glass, despite the fact that a liquid accelerant was not used. The fire fighters theorized that water, cooling the windows, had caused the patterns in the glass. The investigators tested the theory in a lab multiple times and found that when the glass was heated, nothing resulted. However, when water was applied to the heated glass, the crazed patterns would appear.
Dr. Gerald Hurst eliminated all arson indicators, and he concluded that the fire was accidental, likely due to either a space heater or faulty electrical wiring. His report was ignored by the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and by the “fail-safe” mechanism, Governor Rick Perry.
- Perry Leads Prayer Rally for Nation in Crisis - NYTimes.com
A prayer rally in a Houston stadium was seen as one of the biggest tests of Gov. Rick Perrys political career.
Presidential Candidate Rick Perry, Is Cameron Willingham the Reason Why You Pray?
In December of 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported on the flaws in forensic science. The reporters noticed Cameron’s case, submitted Dr. Hurst’s findings to multiple, independent fire experts, and all experts agreed with Dr. Hurst’s findings.
In 2005, Texas-state lawmakers created the Texas Forensic Science Commission (TFSC) due to a number of high-profile arson cases that were mishandled and shoddily investigated.
In 2006, the Innocence Project took on Cameron’s case and requested that the TFSC investigate Hurst’s report and review all of the evidence in the case.
In 2009, Craig Beyler, PhD, submitted a report to the TFSC regarding the fire investigations used in Cameron’s case (as well as Cameron’s exonerated fellow inmate). The report concluded that arson could not have been the cause of the fire that killed Cameron’s three children, that the investigation’s results were not based upon scientific facts, and that the standards that were used to investigate the case not only violated the standards of present-day, but also violated the standards at that time, as the fire investigators (Fogg and Vasquez) had poor understanding of fire science.
Governor Rick Perry’s cover-up and poor judgment:
In 2009, as the TFSC was ready to rule on the validity of the evidence, Governor Rick Perry fired three members of the panel. John Bradley, the new TFSC chair and appointed by Governor Rick Perry, immediately postponed the ruling and submitted an inquiry to Texas Attorney General, Greg Abott, requesting him to rule on the limits of the commission’s authority.
Although John Bradley was not confirmed in the Texas Senate (he referred to Cameron Willingham as a “guilty monster” while speaking to the press), his inquiry to the Attorney General had already been submitted and required a determination.
The ruling from Texas Attorney General Greg Abott on July 29, 2011:
Although the Forensic Science Commission may conduct investigations of incidents that occurred before September 1, 2005, the law that created the Commission prohibits (it) from considering evidence that was tested or offered into evidence prior to that date. The Forensic Science Commission’s investigative authority is limited to those laboratories, facilities, or other entities that were accredited by the Department of Public Safety at the time the forensic analysis took place.
As of this date, Cameron Todd Willingham has not had his name cleared.
As of this date, the main-stream, national media is not reporting on this case or Presidential Candidate Rick Perry’s attempt to cover up his lethal mistake.
John Bradley is no longer serving on the TFSC. Bradley is currently the District Attorney in Williamson County, Texas. Bradley's position was appointed by Governor Rick Perry. He is currently accused of withholding evidence that would have proved the innocence of a man found guilty of murdering his wife 25 years ago.
The New Yorker; in-depth story
- Cameron Todd Willingham, Texas, and the death penalty : The New Yorker
Online version of the weekly magazine, with current articles, cartoons, blogs, audio, video, slide shows, an archive of articles and abstracts back to 1925
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