AUSTIN -- More than a week after announcing a shake-up on the Texas Forensic Science Commission, Gov. Rick Perry on Friday removed another member and named two appointees to the oversight panel, including Fort Worth criminal defense attorney Lance Evans.
Evans, 45, was named to replace Sam Bassett, an Austin criminal defense attorney who had served as chairman of the nine-member commission. Perry also removed Sridhar Natarajan, a Lubbock medical examiner, and named Bexar County Medical Examiner Randall Frost of Boerne as his replacement.
The latest reshuffling comes nine days after Perry removed Bassett and two other commissioners -- Alan Levy, a prosecutor in the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, and Aliece Watts, a forensic scientist who lives in Burleson.
The first wave of dismissals was announced as the commission was preparing to review expert findings challenging an arson investigation that led to the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham of Corsicana, who was convicted of capital murder for setting a house fire that killed his three daughters.
Perry has defended the commission changes, saying he is replacing members whose terms have expired. But critics have accused the Republican governor of attempting to gut the panel to avoid potentially embarrassing findings if the commission inquiry concludes that the state executed an innocent man.
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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