November 3rd, 2011
A Texas Commission charged with investigating the Cameron Todd Willingham arson case released its final report last Friday, October 28. Willingham was convicted of killing his children by intentionally setting the fire that destroyed their home. Modern advances in arson science indicate that the evidence used to convict Willingham may have been faulty. Despite doubts about his guilt, Willingham was executed in 2004 for the crime.
The Texas Forensic Science Commission re-examined the evidence in the Willingham case and made recommendations for improving arson investigations in Texas. The Commission made 17 recommendations for incorporating new science and procedures into arson investigations to reduce the risk of wrongfully convicting people based on improper science.
The commission’s findings will also spur the re-review of over 700 old arson cases, with the State Fire Marshall’s Office as well as the Innocence Project of Texas working to examine the cases. They will be looking for bad forensic science and practices that may have lead to other questionable or wrongful convictions.