Thursday, July 23, 2009

Forensic Science Commission to review Willingham, Moon cases

If this blog were a paid gig, I'd be headed off to Houston to attend the Texas Forensic Science Commission meeting first thing tomorrow morning, but after hemming and hawing over the cost I think I have to pass. Looks like an interesting agenda, though (see the opening meetings page at the Texas Register).

For starters, they're going to review the Cameron Willingham/Ernest Willis arson investigations and make decisions about next steps in the case. Those two men were convicted of arson based on identical (flawed) forensic testimony, but Willis was later exonerated while Willingham was sentenced to death and executed.

They'll also review the Brandon Moon case and consider whether to post a contract to investigate it in the Texas Register. This is another instance of flawed forensics, this time out of El Paso involving the Lubbock division of DPS crime labs. In that case, DPS and local prosecutors knew for eight years about the exculpatory evidence but nobody came forward to insist Brandon Moon be released. Brandon's a great guy who I've gotten to know through working with the Innocence Project, and I'm interested to learn what they're doing on his case.

The gathering will also receive a briefing on the "status of legislation involving (the) commission."

Hopefully some local reporter(s) will cover the event, or else perhaps some Grits reader who's able to make it can take detailed notes and let us all know what happens there.


R. Shackleford said...

Flawed testimony, and one guy went free, while the other guy ate the needle? Lovely. This is why I can't support the death penalty.

Jack B. said...


I apologize for this being off-topic; I wanted to email you instead, but couldn't find contact info...

Anyhow, I'm an occasional reader of your blog and a resident of Corpus Christi (you know, the graffiti place). In today's paper, there was a little blurb on the front page about new hurricane maps coming in Sunday's paper. Included was this bit of info: "... police have new authority to use force when issuing an evacuation order."

I'm curious - I don't want to wait until Sunday, nor do I trust our local paper to give the issue proper coverage - do you have any info about how this "new authority" came about?

Evacuating during hurricanes is generally a good idea, but evacuation orders can be issued on a mayor's whim. If a Category 2 hurricane is out in the middle of the Gulf and the mayor issues an evacuation order, I'm still gonna wait a day or so before I pack up and leave. So now, while worrying about property damage, I also have to worry about the possible use of force from the police?

Any information you have would be greatly appreciated. Google searches haven't been very fruitful. My email is jlb_in_cc *at* yahoo *dot* com


Anonymous said...

Is there any news on what was reported at the meeting regarding the Willingham case?

Anonymous said...

It is amazing that the Governor of Texas is personally intervening in the obstruction of the work of this commission.

Why can't he admit his mistake? He's not the first man to mistakenly send an innocent man to his death.