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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Texas executes Carl Henry Blue

Carl Henry Blue
(Reuters) - The state of Texas executed a man on Thursday for killing his former girlfriend in 1994 by dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire.

Carl Henry Blue, 48, was put to death by lethal injection at 6:56pm on Thursday night at The Walls Unit, in Huntsville, Texas.

Blue was convicted of killing ex-girlfriend Carmen Richards-Sanders, 38, in her apartment in Bryan, Texas, on the morning of August 19, 1994, as she was getting ready to leave for work.

His execution was the first carried out in Texas this year and the second in the United States.

According to court records in the Texas case, Blue threw open the door to Richards-Sanders' apartment, tossed gasoline on her and another man who was in the home at the time and set the two of them ablaze with a lighter.

"I told you I was gonna get you," Blue said to Richards-Sanders, according to a court summary of the case.

The male victim survived his injuries, but Richards-Sanders died 19 days later due to organ failure caused by burns over 40 percent of her body.

After turning himself in to police, Blue claimed the incident was a prank and said he did not intend to kill his ex-girlfriend, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

But prosecutors said Blue had exhibited violent behavior towards other women, including a sexual assault of one former girlfriend and a beating of another when she was eight months pregnant.

Five years after Blue's conviction, his death sentence was among about a half-dozen in Texas overturned by a federal judge who ruled it was improper for a former state prison psychologist to testify the black man's race could indicate a propensity for violence.

Blue again was sentenced to die at a second punishment trial in 2001.

At least 11 other prisoners are scheduled for lethal injection in the coming months in Texas, which executed 15 inmates last year.

In Georgia, attorneys for death row inmate Andrew Allen Cook, 38, sought to block his execution by arguing the state's method of lethal injection violated state and federal law.

Cook was convicted of fatally shooting two Mercer University college students in 1995.

Source: Reuters, Feb. 21, 2013

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