LA Times: Texas Gov. Rick Perry may want to run for president. So let me reintroduce you a former constituent of his, Cameron Todd Willingham. Perry oversaw the 2004 execution of Willingham, a father of three convicted for the apparent arson murder of his young daughters. Problem was, the evidence used to prove Willingham set the fire that killed his children was based on shoddy science and obsolete investigation techniques, facts that were brought to Perry’s attention before Willingham’s death. Declaring his innocence to the end, Willingham was executed 12 years after his children’s deaths.
The New Yorker published a lengthy piece in 2009 (here) detailing the whole affair, a depressing portrayal of a government more interested in self-preservation than in serving justice….
….Perry denied Willingham a stay of execution … and frustrated an investigation by the Texas Forensic Science Commission, replacing three of its members days before the board was set to discuss a report that cast serious doubt on the evidence used to send Willingham to the lethal injection gurney. The meeting was canceled.
….Texas executes far more people than any other state, so it’s understandable that Lone Star State Republicans would give their governor a pass. But a Perry candidacy might prod conservatives in less execution-friendly states (such as, say, New Hampshire, which last knotted a noose in 1939) to answer for his apparent indifference to profound injustice.
Texas let Perry off the hook; the rest of the nation may not be so forgiving.