Tuesday, September 28, 2010

News Flash #2 Regarding Cameron Todd Willingham

The astute among you have undoubtedly noticed that Hank Skinner is no longer listed as the subject of the next book in The Skeptical Juror series. In fact, if you look over there (upper left, where it says "The Series"), you will notice that no third book is identified.

Here's the deal. I must have the trial transcripts or I cannot write the book. I was unable to obtain the transcripts for the Hank Skinner trial, so I cannot make Hank Skinner the subject of the third book in the series.

Now here's the News Flash.  Last Wednesday, shortly after noon, I discovered that The Innocence Project had, when I wasn't looking, posted the transcripts for the Cameron Todd Willingham trial. About ten seconds thereafter, I decided to make Cameron Todd Willingham the subject of the third book in The Skeptical Juror Series. About 10 more seconds thereafter, I began working on the book.

My goal is to have The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Cameron Todd Willingham completed and on Amazon by Christmas!

(I'm supposed to finish my book On The Rate of Wrongful Conviction soon, so that might slow me down a bit.)

(I should also go through the editorial process on The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Susan B. Anthony, since I finished the first draft of that book a while ago and I've let it languish.)

(And I need to continue posting, or my readers won't come back.)

(Also, I'm involved with a couple of wrongful-conviction cases behind the scenes, and those people absolutely deserve my attention.)

(And I do need to pay my mortgage somehow.)

My goal is to have The Skeptical Juror and The Trial of Cameron Todd Willingham completed and on Amazon early next year.

News Flash #1 Regarding Cameron Todd Willingham

Many of you have probably been lying awake at night wondering when I will finally get around to writing about Cameron Todd Willingham. Finally, you will be able to sleep. I will be writing of Willingham frequently and extensively for a while, beginning immediately with this News Flash, and following immediately with a second.

Willingham was convicted of and executed for the arson murder of his three young children. His case has become a lightning rod for both sides of the death penalty debate. Opponents of the death penalty claim Willingham was convicted based on a seriously flawed arson investigation, and they have nine (count 'em, nine) of the nation's top fire experts backing them up. Proponents say it doesn't matter: Willingham confessed to his wife not long before he was executed. Or so they say.

Texas empanelled and empowered a forensic team to investigate the arson science surrouding the case. Rick Perry quickly neutered that team by replacing some of the commissioners, including the chairman, with his hand-picked cronies. (Did I say cronies?  I meant boot-licking toadies.) The chairman recently attempted to wrap up the committee work with a no-harm, no-foul ruling, but a majority of the other commissioners balked. They would like to actually hear some testimony before shutting down.

That's it for the background. Now for the news flash.

Judge Charles Baird of Austin has agreed to open a Court of Inquiry to determine whether Cameron Todd Willingham was wrongfully convicted and, by extension, wrongfully executed. He will hear testimony next Wednesday and Thursday, so mark your calendars.

Here's what my calendar is looking like:

06 Oct -- Court of Inquiry opens in case of Cameron Todd Willingham
13 Oct -- US Supreme Court to hear case of Hank Skinner

Couple these events with the 11 June decision by Judge Paul Murphy that Texas must turn over for DNA testing a 1" hair sample that might prove The Despicable Claude Jones was wrongfully executed, and you have a witches' brew of death penalty cases for Rick Perry to chew on. (The metaphor got away from me, but I'll just leave it.)