Death Penalty

Posthumous pardon denied for man executed for arson deaths; lawyers had cited new evidence

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has refused to issue a posthumous pardon for Cameron Todd Willingham, executed in 2004 for the arson deaths of his three children.

Innocence Project co-director Barry Scheck criticized the decision, report the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle and the Texas Tribune. The decision the “illustrates that the clemency system is completely broken in Texas,” he said.

The Innocence Project contends the state used “discredited” scientific evidence to establish arson in the case against Willingham. The group also cites new evidence suggesting that a jailhouse informant who testified about a confession by Willingham falsely told jurors he received no benefit by testifying.

The new evidence consists of a note in the District Attorney’s file that said “based on coop in Willingham,” the jailhouse informant would receive a less severe classification than first-degree robbery, the charge that sent him to jail, the Texas Tribune says. The prosecutor has said he made no promises to the jailhouse informant.

Prior coverage: “Family of executed man seeks investigation into possible innocence”

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