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Texas will re-examine 2004 execution

Aug. 15, 2008 at 8:01 PM   |   Comments

HOUSTON, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Texas authorities Friday agreed to look into whether the state executed an innocent man when it put Cameron Willingham to death in 2004.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission voted unanimously in Houston to investigate a complaint by the Innocence Project, the Houston Chronicle reported Friday. Innocence Project officials filed a petition in May 2006 asking for a re-examination of the execution, claiming it was based on flawed science.

Texas state Sen. Rodney Ellis said at the time the conviction of Willingham might have been based on a false reading of evidence of the cause of a fire in his home in December 1991. The fire killed Willingham's 1-year-old twins and 2-year-old stepdaughter.

The petitioners said they believed the blaze was more likely an accident. Willingham, who maintained his innocence, was executed Feb. 17, 2004.

The Texas Legislature established the Forensic Science Commission in 2005 following a scandal involving the Houston Police Crime lab and problems associated with other Texas forensic labs, the Chronicle said.

The commission Friday also decided to investigate a case in which a West Texas oilfield worker, Ernest Willis, 63, was sentenced to death in connection with a 1986 arson fire that killed two people.

Topics: Rodney Ellis
© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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