October 1st, 2009
12:03 PM ET
5 years ago

Texas governor shakes up panel probing 2004 execution

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has shaken up a state commission that is probing whether a man executed in 2004 belonged on death row.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has shaken up a state commission that is probing whether a man executed in 2004 belonged on death row.

DALLAS, Texas (CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry has shaken up a state commission that is probing whether a man executed in 2004 belonged on death row. Perry's move forces the commission to delay a scheduled hearing on the case.

The governor acted two days before the commission was to hear from an expert who has cast doubt about the quality of the arson investigation that helped convict Cameron Todd Willingham of murder in the deaths of his three daughters in a fire at their home.

Death-penalty opponents say a thorough review of the Willingham case may force Texas to admit that it executed an innocent man. The Texas governor and others, however, say they remain convinced of Willingham's guilt.

Perry replaced the chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission and declined to reappoint two commission members. The commission was to hear testimony Friday from Craig Beyler, an arson investigation expert. He wrote the latest of three reports critical of the testimony that helped prosecutors convict Willingham of murder in 1992.

The governor's office told CNN the moves were a routine replacement of members whose terms had expired.

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Filed under: Rick Perry
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Bubble of Sanity

    I'm a Texan, and I'm voting for anyone but Perry in the next election. I would even vote for Al Franken if he were running against him. Does that tell you how badly we want him gone?

    October 1, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. Jerry, Illinois

    Do I hear the word " Death Panels"?

    October 1, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. kamenwati

    Perry won't be able to cover up this murder of an innocent man in the Texas death chamber. And it's probably not the first instance of this happening either.

    October 1, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  4. mike

    Yeeeah, I'm sure it was just "routine replacement of members whose terms had expired" and had nothing to do with political damage control....that guy just looks like a creepy politician....

    October 1, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. Debra R

    I am pro-choice about the death penalty. I am sure if the man recieved his appeals under state and federal laws then justice was served.

    October 1, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Deb

    I'm not surprised by this , a republican state that allows consealed weapons, you know the good ole boys , shoot em up, rootin tootin cowboys mentality ! They have no sensitivity or concern for others than those in their clique!

    October 1, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. DRB

    The biased media working hard to get more liberals elected in a conservative state. How about writing some negative things about the Democrats who will be running for governor of Texas. I'm sure you can find things like... not paying taxes, helping young boys commit acts with older men, voter fraud, under the table campaign contributions, and of course lying like – no I don't support that, but the record shows otherwise. The Democrats are the party of distrust!

    October 1, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. jeremy.....Dallas...Texas

    Yes this is Texas. Republicans are above the law. We are pro life even as we execute just afew. Only republicans and God do have permission to take life. God Bless this wonderful country.

    October 1, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  9. Lulu'

    the one thing that disgusts me most of this country is the death penalty................

    whant an incivilized procedure...this is the only western country still playing the death card.

    what a shame!!!!!!!!!!

    October 1, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. Bill Sampson

    Rick Perry may have blood on his hands and he is trying to hide it. Why be afraid of an investigation? Afraid of the truth?

    This action is gross and the Federal Government needs to get involved.

    October 1, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    the gop are going to lose everything in 2010 because they are idiots.
    politicians are supposed to relate to the average everyday man and
    woman. But these republicans play their texas trash game. You know thumbing their nose to Hilary even though she is now secretary of state. that game is not going to work anymore. when "w" puts his book out we can put in the toilet where it belongs. the neo-idiots like Romney who probaly put spray on tan god knows where, is a rich Mormon not a nice everyday American. Mean men equal lousy party.

    October 1, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. We Won Get Over It

    Bull he wouldn't stay the execution of an innocent man. Four different forensic investigators had proven that this guy did not set the fire that killed his three children.

    First Perry wouldn't stay the execution...
    Second after the execution he wouldn't listen to the experts...
    Third the first set of investigators didn't have the up to date equipment to test the evidence and therefore did not do a thorough job.
    Fourth the panel's terms were not over Perry fired them before they could approve an investigation.

    I think the people of Texas should demand a thorough review. this man's name should be cleared.

    October 1, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. Lynda

    What a cover up......just another Republican trying to hide the Truth with more Lies.......the GOP has lost all credibility......they are not trying in any way shape or form to try to help this President and this administration to get the country back on its feet, they are putting up road blocks on the Health Care Plan and while doing so more people are dying everyday because they have no health care........they are the DEATH PANEL.....and the State of Texas has the highest Executions rate than any other state.......they just want to kill, kill people, kill every Bill put forth by this President....Republicans are in a Hole they can't crawl out of.........and they want to pull the rest of this country and the people down with them.........

    October 1, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. R Salzano

    Absolutely unthinkable. Everyone, especially responsible officials, should want the truth to come out, whatever that is.

    October 1, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  15. Larry

    Disturbing on so many levels. Texas should be given back to Mexico. What a horribly corrupt state. People involved are not even concerned about their involvement in KILLING an innocent man. Nice country. No wonder the value citizens place on life has declined considerably. Keep on killin' em Texas. Real justice.

    October 1, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. Rosa

    Rick Perry is a disgusting individual. Let the truth be told and be done with it!

    October 1, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  17. jim

    The timing is shady at best.

    October 1, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. CB

    In 2008, 37 persons in nine states were executed - 18 in Texas; 4 in Virginia; 3 each in Georgia and South Carolina; 2 each in Florida, Mississippi, Ohio, and Oklahoma, and 1 in Kentucky. September 1,

    2009 Pro-Life Legislation Campaign Update Endorsements, Austin, TX (LifeNews.com) - A Texas pro-life group has weighed into what will likely be a combative primary election contest in Texas as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison takes on sitting Gov. Rick Perry. The Texas Alliance for Life political action committee is urging Texans to get behind Perry, saying his pro-life record and views are superior. "We enthusiastically endorse Governor Perry in his bid for re-election," TAL director Joe Pojman told LifeNews.com late Monday.

    So... just maybe... the pro-lifers' are concerned about the "born" as well as well as the "unborn"? One would hope.

    October 1, 2009 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    Wow. What an absolutely incredible scumbag this guy is. Regardless of party...justice is what it is...if the state screwed up while you were at the helm, then the honest, forthright thing to do is accept it, address it like a man, take your lumps and move on. I guess they grow 'em weak-kneed and sissy-like in TX. Hope you're proud of yourselves.

    October 1, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. D. Tree

    The Texas Governor is neither Judge nor Jury – he has no authority to decide if the man was wrongfully convicted & executed. The Governors power is to offer a pardon, not the authority to judge a conviction.

    October 1, 2009 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. SlowGun

    Our justice system may be the best in the world, but it is not perfect. Mistake can and have been made. So how can you have a sentence that can not be corrected if later it is found that the wrong person was convicted?

    How come all of the people who are pro death penalty are also the same people who go around claiming our country was founded on Christain values?

    October 1, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  22. Pam

    Hey Texans!
    You elected this guy?????

    Oops! Sorry – I forgot you guys also elected Geoge Bush once as a governor!

    October 1, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. David Kimball

    Good old Texas Boys will stick together and refuse others to look at them critically. Texas politics has always been a game of subterfuge and avoiding facts in order to appear honest.

    October 1, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  24. bdmiller

    Governor Perry: humuliating Texas and Texans over and over again. How about you return to your $10K/month rent house and make your own plans to secede from the union. Good grief!

    October 1, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  25. steven harnack

    You could have a video tape of someone else commiting the crime and prosecutors would still claim the person executed deserved to die.The numbers of men exonorated from death rows make it impossible that innocent men have not been killed.

    October 1, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
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