Man's execution challenged in Texas

May 3, 2006 at 12:08 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, May 3 (UPI) -- A petition has been filed in Austin, Texas, for a re-examination of evidence in a 15-year-old arson to determine if an innocent man was executed.

A state lawmaker and the New York-based Innocence Project filed the petition to determine if the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham was based on flawed science, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Democratic State Sen. Rodney Ellis said the conviction of the Corsicana, Texas, resident might have been based on a false reading of the evidence of what started the fire in Willingham's home. The blaze, two days before Christmas 1991, killed Willingham's three young children, the report said.

Ellis was joined by Barry Scheck, an attorney and co-director of the Innocence Project, which investigates executions in which there are questions about guilt and innocence. The petitioners believe the blaze was more likely an accident.

Willingham, who maintained his innocence, was executed Feb. 17, 2004, the report said.

The Dallas Morning News reported that Willingham's relatives believe an innocent man was executed.

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