Todd Willingham’s family seeks posthumous pardon

Executed Texan’s Family Seeks Pardon

Associated Press

Cameron T. Willingham


Two decades after a Texas man was convicted of murdering his three young daughters by setting his own house on fire, and eight years after a campaign to prove his innocence failed to stop his execution, his family petitioned on Wednesday for a posthumous pardon.

The case of Cameron Todd Willingham of Corsicana, Tex., has drawn attention because it seems to offer evidence that an innocent man was executed based on flawed science. Spurred partly by this case, the Texas fire marshal recently agreed to re-examine questionable arson convictions.

The battle to clear Mr. Willingham’s name has symbolic value for those fighting to end the death penalty. Six years ago, Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court wrote that he was unaware of “a single case — not one — in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit.”

Mr. Willingham’s conviction was based heavily on testimony by the Texas state fire marshal, who asserted that the scene offered clear signs of arson. Recent research has raised substantial questions about his conclusions and led to a review of other arson convictions in Texas. That research is scheduled to be presented to a panel of fire experts by January, and advocates say it could lead to the reversal of several wrongful convictions.

“Todd’s last words were: ‘Please clear my name. I did not kill my children,’ ” said Stephen Saloom, policy director of the Innocence Project, which has led the work on this case, with the pro bono assistance of the New York law firm Schulte Roth & Zabel. The Innocence Project is affiliated with Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University.

“All the evidence against him has been disproven,” Mr. Saloom said. “There have been nine reports issued about this case over the years. We are saying to the board: you couldn’t have known before, but now you have all this evidence before you.”

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3 thoughts on “Todd Willingham’s family seeks posthumous pardon



    Dudley Sharp

    Fire Forensic expert Gerald Hurst states: “I never had a case where I could
    exclude arson,” “It’s not possible to do that.” (1).

    Although I am not an absolutist on the issue, as is Hurst, he is, certainly
    correct, when looking at the Willingham case.

    In addition, the current state of review in the Willingham case is

    — Some experts have found the source of the fire to be unknowable – could
    be arson, could be an accident — although no accidental source has been,
    forensically, identified. The original investigators excluded all accidental
    sources and none have since been established. (2).

    — Some confirm the fire as arson (2).

    — Additional evidence for guilt has been found, inclusive of an additional
    confession by Willingham and an additional eyewitness, confriming previous
    evidence against Willingham (2).

    (1) “Family’s Effort to Clear Name Frames Debate on Executions”, John
    Schwartz, New York Times, October 14, 2010,

    (2) “Cameron Todd Willingham: Another Media Meltdown”, A Collection of


  2. I can not believe the US still executes people. But then again the US incarcerates hundreds of thousands of people with no possibility of parole. Less pardons have happened this last administration then all history. The federally held inmates also deserve parole, early release, pardons. It is a justice system without HOPE. It saddens me that a man can make a mistake or the courts wrongfully judge and they loose their whole life to prison or the death penalty. I do not think that inmates are on the agenda. I believe that they are locked away and forgotten and that our injustice system prevails. There are men and women sitting in prison languishing in pain for very minor offenses that should have only got a year or two but they are there for 30 or 40 years. How can it be that inmates who did not murder, rape or hurt anyone remain for over 30 years? Where is the fairness in this? I would love to talk to the president, a senator, anyone who would listen to just hear me. To listen and be willing to change the system even just a little. I read fedcure and proposed sentence reduction plans and they are a few days off a year in sentence. Really? And even that always gets shot down. Good time does not exist. And if it does the prisons are quick to take it away for any perceived infraction and it angers me. I have a husband who has served 18 years for home burglary, no gun, no one hurt. God forgive the judge who poured this sentence out. He has until 2030 before he is released. He is not a danger to society. It is a crime that normally gets a few years. The other two men have been out for YEARS for their “assistance”. Have Mercy Lord for those who steal and for those who steal whole LIVES. What is worse?


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