Judge Exonerated Executed Man

You may remember the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in Texas in 2004, for what a great many people believe was a crime he did not commit. The Huffington Post notes that a Texas state judge wrote a declaration exonerating him in 2010, but it was never released because the appeals courts overruled him.

A Texas judge who reviewed the controversial 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham planned to posthumously exonerate the father who was put to death for killing his three daughters in a house fire.

Scientific experts who debunked the arson evidence used against Willingham at his 1992 trial and a jailhouse witness who recanted his shaky testimony convinced District Court Judge Charlie Baird in 2010 that “Texas wrongfully convicted” him. But Baird’s order clearing Willingham’s name never became official, because a higher court halted the posthumous inquiry while it considered whether the judge had authority to examine the capital case.

While waiting for permission to finish the case from the Third Court of Appeals, Baird put together the document that “orders the exoneration of Cameron Todd Willingham for murdering his three daughters,” because of “overwhelming, credible and reliable evidence” presented during a one-day hearing in Austin in October 2010…

The 18-page unissued order closely examined the arson evidence presented during the trial, including claims that investigators found patterns on the floor where an accelerant was poured and traces of it on the porch. But Baird said he was persuaded by other experts that the initial investigative techniques were out of date. The judge faulted Gov. Rick Perry and the state Court of Criminal Appeals, because they “ignored” exonerating evidence in 2004.

Baird released the document because of the recent report that Texas had put to death another likely innocent person in Carlos DeLuna.

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