FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 31, 2009
CONTACT: Scott Cobb, 512-552-4743 www.texasmoratorium.org
New Yorker Article Casts Doubt on All Evidence that Led to Execution of Todd Willingham
Governor Perry Should Urge Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, Judges and DAs to Suspend Executions
The New Yorker today published a 16,000 word report by David Grann that examines all the evidence used against Todd Willingham that led to his execution and finds that none of it was valid. There is no doubt now that Texas executed an innocent person. The State of Texas should halt executions in light of the New Yorker report and last week’s news that the investigator hired by the Texas Forensic Science Commission has concluded that the fire in the Willingham case was accidental and not arson. Willingham was executed for arson/murder in 2004. In fact, there was no arson, so there was no crime. Texas executed an innocent person.
“This is the greatest crisis in the history of capital punishment in Texas. Our state has lost the moral authority to continue conducting executions after having executed an innocent person. Texas Moratorium Network calls on Governor Perry to urge the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend stays for all ten people who currently have scheduled execution dates. Perry should also urge all District Attorneys and judges in Texas to stop setting new execution dates and to withdraw all pending execution dates. Governor Perry does not have the authority to unilaterally impose a moratorium, but he can act to create a consensus among judges, district attorneys and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to stop executions. The Texas system of carrying out executions must be suspended and the Governor should appoint a balanced commission to examine all aspects of the Texas death penalty system to determine what went wrong in the Willingham case and whether it is possible to prevent any more executions of innocent people. A moratorium on executions is the only way to guarantee that another innocent person is not executed”, said Scott Cobb, president of Texas Moratorium Network.
“Governor Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles were provided a report written by fire expert Gerald Hurst before Willingham’s execution that cast considerable doubt on the conclusion that the fire was arson. They ignored Hurst’s report. Now, they have a responsibility to take action to ensure that Texas does not execute another innocent person”, said Cobb.