Upcoming Executions
Click for a list of upcoming scheduled executions in Texas.
The death penalty puts innocent people at risk of execution.
Todd Willingham
Todd Willingham was wrongfully executed under Governor Rick Perry on February 17, 2004.

A new documentary on the case of Cameron Todd Willingham entitled “Burned” is nearing completion.

According to the filmmakers, all the footage has been shot and the film is in post-production. “It’s coming along well! We’ve partnered with the Arson Research Project and are creating a transmedia project”, the filmmakers told us on Twitter. You can follow the project on Twitter @projectBurned.

For more information, you can also visit the website at http://www.burned-documentary.org/.

For more on the case of Todd Willingham, visit http://www.camerontoddwillingham.com.

 From the project’s website:

Burned is a new documentary by Jessie Deeter about Cameron Todd Willingham who was executed in 2004 for the arson deaths of his three young daughters, despite clear forensic evidence that the fire was not arson.

Currently, we have completed filming and are beginning post-production work with a target date of late spring 2011 for a rough cut. We’re grateful for the grants and donations we have received, but we still have some distance to cover – and we can’t get there without you.

You can help by:
Making a donation
* Sharing our quest via email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
* Asking at least one other person to do the same

Your contribution will help us with costs of editing, music, web site, sound design, festivals submission, color correction, office space and much more.

Please join us in our work to bring this story to the screen. Please spread the word…every dollar and every mention helps.

Sign up for the project’s mailing list to keep informed about upcoming screenings and other events.

Beunka Adams was executed by lethal injection tonight in Huntsville. Today’s execution was the 482nd in Texas since 1982 and the 243rd since Rick Perry became Governor.

From AP:

Adams, 29, said just before he was executed that he was “very sorry for everything that happened,” according to Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

“I am not the malicious person you think I am,” Adams said in front of witnesses including Vandever’s family members and one of the surviving victims, according to Clark. “I was real stupid back then. I made a great many mistakes. What happened was wrong. I was a kid in a grown man’s world.”

Prosecutors said Adams and his co-defendant, Richard Cobb, who was also sentenced to death, had robbed two other people at gunpoint before the convenience store incident.

Adams’ case focused attention on the question of whether low-income defendants receive adequate legal representation when they are on trial for their lives.

Adams filed a flurry of motions asking various courts to overturn his death sentence on the grounds that he received inadequate legal representation at his trial.

A federal court ordered his execution blocked earlier this month, but a federal appeals court overruled that decision, and ordered the execution to be carried out. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday denied his request for a stay of execution.

Adams used what has become known as the “death is different” argument, claiming that people facing capital punishment are entitled to greater latitude in challenging evidence, the right to more competent legal counsel, and broader ability to challenge lower court rulings than inmates who are facing imprisonment only.

The “death is different” argument was rejected by the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, citing several U.S. Supreme Court precedents.

Texas has executed more than four times as many people as any other state since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Texas executed 13 people in 2011.

Beunka Adams has been granted a stay of execution by a U.S. District Judge:

From the Houston Chronicle:

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A 29-year-old convict set to die this week for a fatal shooting during the robbery and abductions at an East Texas convenience store has won a reprieve from a federal judge.

Beunka Adams was set for lethal injection Thursday evening in Huntsville for the September 2002 slaying of 37-year-old Kenneth Vandever outside Rusk. Vandever and two women were abducted during the robbery, one of the women was raped, and all three were shot. The women survived.

Lawyers for Adams convinced U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider in Texarkana, Texas, that the execution should be delayed until the courts review allegations that Adams had poor legal help in the early stages of his appeals.

It’s unclear if the Texas Attorney General’s office would or could appeal Monday’s ruling.

When we first posted the link to the petition written by Kerry Max Cook, less than 200 people had signed it. Now, there are almost 35,000 signatures.

Here is a personal message from Kerry Max Cook:

“After my story and ongoing legal plight was published on the front-page of the New York Times last week, a National organization called Change.org contacted me and wants to try and collect as many signatures as possible to try and put pressure on Texas to do the right thing and officially recognize my innocence. With this in mind, and with their encouragement, I started a petition on Change.org asking the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend me for a full pardon based on actual innocence.”

Click here to sign my petition:



Why This Is Important

In 1978 I was found guilty for the rape and murder of a 21-year-old woman in Texas. I was sentenced to death row. I was innocent.

In 1999 I was proven innocent through DNA testing — after over 20 years on death row.

The case against me was based entirely on circumstantial evidence. Over the years, every piece of evidence used to convict me was revealed to be bogus.The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the prosecution had suppressed evidence that showed I was innocent in order to build their case against me.

Thirteen years after my innocence was proven and I was released from prison, the state of Texas still has not judicially exonerated me.

I was tried for this murder nearly four times. Despite an Appellate ruling throwing out my second conviction with findings that “Police and prosecutorial misconduct has tainted this entire matter from the outset,” the Smith County District Attorney’s Office was more interested in saving face than justice.

Unwilling to drop the charges against me on the eve of my fourth trial, prosecutors offered a plea-bargain: plead no-contest with no admission of guilt, and go free. By this time my only brother had been murdered, my Dad had died of cancer, and my mother had abandoned me. I took the offer and walked out of the courtroom. But I have never been free.

Two months later, DNA evidence proved my innocence.

Because I pleaded no-contest to the murder, I cannot be declared actually innocent unless the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles recommends to Governor Rick Perry that I be pardoned and Texas Governor Rick Perry agrees and sets me free.

Without being exonerated, I feel I am still in a Texas prison.

Please sign my petition and ask the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend to Texas Governor Rick Perry that I be pardoned and finally set free from my mental prison sentence now in its 35th year.

Kerry Cook

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