As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Murder In Texas: Update

Glenn Smith writes that a Texas state Senator is trying to investigate the astonishing "Saturday Night Massacre"-style dismissal by Gov. Rick Perry of three members of a commission which was about to look into his negligence which led to the state-sanctioned murder of an innocent man. He wants the newly installed member of the Texas Forensic Science Commission to schedule a hearing on the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, and fast.

Last week, Perry scuttled the Texas Forensic Science Commission hearing into the evidence that convicted Cameron Todd Willingham, scheduled for last Friday. The governor, without warning, replaced three of his four appointees to the nine-member commission. The commission had been scheduled to hear from nationally recognized arson expert Craig Beyler, who had issued a report in August questioning the evidence in the Willingham case. Beyler wrote:

The investigators [in Willingham's case] had poor understandings of fire science and failed to acknowledge or apply the contemporaneous understanding of the limitations of fire indicators. Their methodologies did not comport with the scientific method or the process of elimination.

Sen. (John) Whitmire said he would bring Williamson County prosecutor John Bradley, Perry’s newly appointed Forensic Science Commission chairman, before his Senate committee. Craig Beyler should also testify, saying publicly what Perry stopped him from saying last week. A legislative committee shouldn’t pre-empt an executive branch function — even if it’s been obstructed by the governor. But Beyler has already publicly issued his report. Legislators have a right to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

Also somewhat lost in the outrage over Perry’s Nixonian action were statements from two of those let go from the Forensic Science Commission, Fort Worth prosecutor Alan Levy and Commission Chairman, Sam Bassett, an Austin lawyer. Neither man had prior knowledge that the axe was falling on their heads, and that raises further questions about Perry’s motives. Perry said his action was just “business as usual,” noting that the terms of the agency officials had expired. Operating under business as usual, their dismissals would not have been kept secret from them.

Smith has a lot more at the link. I don't know if this case will start a national debate on the death penalty based on how the system sent an innocent man to his death, but clearly Rick Perry doesn't want to have that debate. Seeing that he's in a primary fight for his job, and the cover-up is so brazen and obvious, we could actually see this get some wider attention.

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