Monday, April 09, 2007

CNN's Anderson Cooper 360...

[UPDATE Part II: Transcript of the show is here.]


I am sure David will have more on Tuesday, until then I thought it might do well to update everyone on his early coverage.

Cameron Todd Willingham (Texas) was convicted of arson murder in 1992 and executed in 2004. He was convicted of murdering his three children in a 1991 house fire. An independent investigation, reported by the Chicago Tribune, found that prosecutors and arson investigators used arson theories that have since been repudiated by scientific advances. In December 2004, a Chicago Tribune series on junk science concluded that Cameron Todd Willingham, executed earlier that year, had been convicted on the basis of discredited arson analysis. A recent report by the Innocence Project, conducted by a team of leading arson experts, supports the Tribune story.

Anderson Cooper’s 360, part of CNN’s prime time news coverage, looked Monday night at Cameron Todd Willingham and the question of whether Texas killed him for a crime that was never committed — not by him, not by anyone.

Report Randi Kaye writing at the 360 blog notes:

These new forensics are now used as the gold standard of arson investigation around the world. It may have come too late in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham (the governor of Texas reviewed the new findings just 15 minutes before Willingham’s execution and chose to go ahead with it) but they could save hundreds of others behind bars for arson who claim they’re innocent. Problem is, the International Association of Arson Investigators, doesn’t see a need to reopen or revisit all of the arson convictions on the books.
[Earlier Post] scheduled tonight to air a piece on Cameron Todd Willingham. Willingham, some readers will recall, was executed by the state of Texas in 2004 for deliberately setting his house on fire and causing the deaths of two of his children.

Forensic science that emerged after Willingham's conviction -- but before his execution -- strongly suggested that the fire was accidental, not deliberately set.

Willingham was one of four people featured in NCADP's groundbreaking report, Innocent and Executed: Four Chapters in the Life of America's Death Penalty.

If breaking news happens (you know, Iraq, Alberto Gonzales, Anna Nicole Smith, etc.) tonight's piece could get bumped. If that happens, we'll try to let you know about the make-up date.

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