Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Did Todd Willingham confess or did Stacy Kuykendall lie?

"We're not calling [Stacy] Kuykendall a liar," said the Dallas News editorial board, after she released a written statement to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram claiming Todd Willingham secretly confessed his guilt to her in her last visit with him on death row before he was executed.

I guess, then, that task will fall on me. It must be said: Not everything Stacy Kuykendall has said about the Todd Willingham case is true. Either she is lying now or she lied in the past, including under oath at her ex-husband's trial. There are just no two ways about it. As the New Yorker's David Grann pointed out, her recent statement:
directly contradicts numerous previous statements she has made: in interviews with police and fire investigators; in testimony during the trial; in letters to public officials and Willingham’s lawyers; and in her comments to the press ...

After the fire, police and fire investigators interrogated Kuykendall. Each time, she said that she and Todd had not fought the night before the blaze, and that they had gone to Kmart to pick up photographs of the family to get ready for their Christmas celebration. She never mentioned that she intended to divorce Willingham, whom she had married three months earlier. She said he would not have hurt the children.

She had this exchange with a police detective and the deputy state fire marshal, Manuel Vasquez:

VASQUEZ: Did you and your husband have any disagreements on the night after Kmart?

KUYKENDALL: No. No we didn’t.

VASQUEZ: Did he get angry at you for any reason?

KUYKENDALL: No. ...

Kuykendall continued to give the same version of events long after the fire and after she and Willingham were divorced. In 1999, she spoke to Elizabeth Gilbert, a teacher and playwright from Houston who had begun to investigate Willingham’s case. According to a tape recording of the conversation, Kuykendall made it clear that she still believed that Willingham was innocent and that he had no motive to hurt their children. She noted that he had an inadequate defense, saying of one of his lawyers, “He’s not a good lawyer. He’s just not.” She also said the prosecution was motivated to find anyone to blame. “I think they were after somebody,” she said. “They didn’t care who.” She said, “I don’t think he did it…. He was a mean person to me, but something like that, no.”
Now she claims they'd argued and she'd threatened divorce soon before the fatal fire and that Willingham confessed to her at the 11th hour. But she told the Corsicana Sun immediately after that last death-row visit that Willingham still maintained his innocence, describing his version of the story in significant detail. By that time as his final days approached, she told the Sun, Kuykendall herself had come to be convinced of her ex-husband's guilt, but she insisted Willingham never confessed and still maintained the fire was an accident.

I feel sorry for Stacy Kuykendall and I know this must seem like a never ending nightmare that has devastated and defined her entire adult life. (Somebody please explain to me again how the death penalty provides "closure" for victims?) As though losing three children isn't a big enough tragedy, no one has ever believed her, it seems. When she testified in her husband's defense, prosecutors considered her as a dupe. Now that she's changed her mind about what happened, these latest recollections of her ex-husband's confession simply cannot be reconciled with all she's said in the past.

I don't know which time Kuykendall was telling the truth or what was her motive when she didn't, but I know for sure it can't all be accurate. That fact can't be overcome just from sympathy for her unfortunate and painful history. It's regrettable that she put herself in that position in such a high-profile case, but that's where we are.

It did strike me that there might be a way to find out for sure whether Todd Willingham really confessed. TDCJ is set up to electronically record non-attorney visitations with death row inmates. Their online policies say they "may" record visits, but I've been told in the past they record all of them on death row except those with the inmates' attorneys. To find out for sure, I spoke this morning with TDCJ's lead PR person, Michelle Lyons, but she could not confirm whether all conversations are recorded or only selected ones. No one had ever asked her that question, she said, though I'm willing to bet in light of recent events I won't be the last one who wants to know. So to get more information, I filed an open records request today asking for the following information:
  • Any TDCJ policies regarding recording of conversations during death-row inmates' non-attorney visitations, including any policy describing how often recording occurs, under what circumstances, whether every call is recorded, what is done with the recordings, who has access to them, how long they're kept, what documentation must be maintained, etc..
  • Any log or record of recordings from visitations for now-deceased death row inmate Cameron Todd Willingham.
  • Any log or record of who has accessed or listened to recordings from visitations for now-deceased death row inmate Cameron Todd Willingham.
  • The tape or audio file (in whatever format it's maintained in) of any recorded visitations with Cameron Todd Willingham during the month before his execution.
Maybe we can get to the bottom of this confession question once and for all.

RELATED: Also from the Star-Telegram, Dave Montgomery has a good piece detailing the specific conclusions from testimony by the fire marshal at Todd Willingham's trial that modern arson experts say were flawed and unwarranted. Said one of the nine arson experts who have independently concluded the forensic testimony was flawed, "I really did get sick to my stomach after I reviewed that case ... He could have done it, but he probably didn’t." That's also pretty much my conclusion from everything I've seen so far. That said, if this open records request comes back with a recorded confession, it'd pretty much put an end to the "innocence" debate in this case. The debate over faulty arson forensics, however, is arguably more important at this juncture and deserves a more complete airing whether or not Todd Willingham confessed.

93 comments:

Anonymous said...

In her statement to the Star-Telegram Stacy says when she got to the hospital she asked Todd why her children were dead and he was still alive and Todd had nothing to say. She says she "then left the room and returned to my oldest daughter." In the next paragraph she says "...I lost all my children."

I don't know if she had any other children than the three who died that day but it doesn't matter. The point is she uttered an inconsistency. And she's doing it many years later when she has presumably had time to heal emotionally and "see the truth" as it were.

It's interesting she is allowed this latitude as a battered wife and grieving mother but Todd, who has just been confronted by the mother of his babies and essentially asked "what the hell are you doing alive?" is not allowed the same thing.

Why can't the explanation for his inconsistent statements in the hours after his children's death be that he was suffering intense grief and acute survivor's guilt?

Acerbic said...

Stacy is not saying Todd admitted to starting the fire. She's saying he told more conflicting versions about his actions. That is no confession to murder.

I think it's possible that Todd felt so guilty about his cowardice that he believed he deserved to die just as much as everyone else did.

In any case this latest "revelation" doesn't change a thing.

Anonymous said...

Grits its easy to fabricate contradictions when you make a sloppy summary of one statement and then you compare it to a lazy summary of another statement from 5 years previous.

Her statement makes it pretty clear that she was initially trying to cover for him and to the extent that it contains a confession it is a tacit confession at best.

You are responsible for recklessly stirring up the pain for this woman by pursuing the bogus innocence claims but rather than owe up to your misdeeds you decide to smear the victim. Real classy.

Texas Maverick said...

Amazing how the subject gets lost when folks seem to only want to vent their own bias. This case concerns investigative actions which have serious flaws and need desperately to be review for current best practices. Any business knows you cannot stay status quo and continue to exist. Government is the only enity that is allowed that choice. If you are protecting your conscience because you don't want to admit a mistake was made and you might be responsible, then I too would be reluctant to step up to the plate. Admitting we were wrong is the hardest thing for most of us to do. But I have much more respect for the person who can step up to the plate and say "I made a mistake. How can I do a better job?" Let's stop protecting ourselves and make Texas a better state.

TDCJ EX said...

Grits,

Frist I can say that from my real life experince with being on Polunsky . They do record every Death Row vist from all I have been told by both boss and convicts . This is done to to catch anything the state can use agianst them in appeals as well as intecept any contrband or escape plans .

I do not know how long TDCJ keeps this my guess is forever in case of any legal action.

It is highly doubtful there was a confession I have no doubt if there was it would have been released long ago and used to fight His final appeal it was not .

As for the emtonial argumnets well that is just plain specuation and one down right offsive . Calling your intergity into question if not saying you are to blame for Ms Kuyendell's troubles . That is simply offensive and out of line .


If a person is gong to go public and giving inconsistent accounts to the media , they have to live with the consequenses of doing so .

Co opting and the very real grief of a victm to silence other voices and political gain is rephensible and as immoral as those thease "Tough on Crime " ilk condemn so loudly .

No one can say exactly how they will or will not act in a traumatic event or events .

Anonymous said...

What motive would Stacy have to lie about something like this after all this time. Willingham is executed. It's not like he's going to get a new trial. It's not like she was the prosecutor in the case and is going to feel any discomfort over the idea that an innocent person was executed. If anything, if she had any doubts about his guilt it would seem that she would be the FIRST person asking questions about the evidence used to convict. Sounds to me like a mother of three murdered girls who is just trying to set the record straight. To me, her statement quoted in the Star-Telegram is a lot more genuine and straightforward than the double hearsay quotes that you are basing your opinion on, Grits. Shame on you!

Anonymous said...

Stacy could have a million motives for lying about the confession. The most obvious one being, it's easier to believe he did it, since she blamed him at the end.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the conversation was on cell phone? They've got plenty of those on Polunsky:)

Anonymous said...

5:16, that's a crock. It's easy to believe he did it because the OVERWHELMING evidence in this case compels one to the conclusion that he DID murder three little girls. If you are relying on Grits and the anti-death penalty media to objectively report the truth about this case, you are living in FANTASYLAND! There may well be a case somewhere in this country where an innocent was executed. But this ain't it!

SB said...

There are a few dingbats here.
Scott,your actions are brilliant. Not only will it be great to hear the tape but it will also tell us who also had this brilliant idea before you. Somehow I think if there is a confession on the tape it would have been big news and splashed everywhere.
Todd Willingham has become a well known name. For a book deal or a movie would guilty or innocent be a more profitable ending?

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong here.

Before the arson evidence was reviewed by a number of independent experts and declared hinky on a number of levels, Stacy stuck by and swore to Willinghams claims of innocence?

After all this hit the news, became the possible case that proves that Texas has put an innocent man to death, has everyone from The Hair all the way down to the so called defense attorney (Please God may we never find ourselves ever in a position where we are forced to rely on the likes of that particular individual for our safety, freedom and well being in a courtroom!) scrambling like roaches in a sudden spotlight to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their gut feelings trump all advancements in science and just because maybe Willingham might not have been the most likable guy, any and all prior bad acts, true or false, should be proof enough that he deserved to be executed because he was the kind of man who would set the fire?

Now that Texas is in big time defense mode, they've dragged out each and every witness they could to have interviewed to rebut these new findings and continue to insist they couldn't have made a mistake. We even have a lovely clip with the so called defense attorney who sounds like he should have been heading the lynch mob instead of defending anyone. We have an interview with the original arson investigator who sounds like he regards any advancements in the science since 1970 as witchcraft. Then we have a statement from Stacy's brother saying that she told him that Willingham confessed. That is now followed by a statement from Stacy, contradicting every other statement or testimony she has ever made or given, now claiming that Willingham confessed. Not only confessed, but confessed during a visit which by all accounts would have been recorded by the state. Interesting progression.

Am I the only one here that is shaking my head and thinking, “Wow! This just reads like one of those Government conspiracy novels and “they” are covering their bases!”

But it's not a novel....or a flick.....or something I heard from my crazy neighbor who believes....forget that, don't want to go there. So I ask, given everything Texas has riding on being right on this one, would it be so hard to believe there could be a conspiracy, worthy of a bad novel at work here? Could there be some pressure being used to make this woman change her story? Didn't someone, somewhere point out that she could have set the fire before she left the house? Is it possible that the State has laid it on the line and told her to change her story or face possible charges herself based on that conjecture? Equally possible are a hundred other scenarios. But just this once, I would tend to believe that truth is stranger than fiction and just maybe, people like my neighbor who see conspiracies around every corner are occasionally right on target.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't pay a dime to see any movie regarding this mess. Both sides are wrong. Just like no one seems to understand us. Just leave us ALONE. We don't cry. We just multiply. So what?

Warren Jeffs

Anonymous said...

What the evidence was then, irrespective of it's form, should be weighed into account with new advancements in technology to determine once and forever if Willingham was a guilty person.

If innocent, place a moratorium on the death penalty until we have better conclusive evidence in these matters.

If not, let be, as the evidence has proven guilt.

Anonymous said...

Willingham's own version of events was essentially a confession. He said that his two year old daughter Amber woke him up from a nap and alerted him to the fire. He said that he yelled at her and then exited the house, leaving Amber and the twin infants inside to die.

If you've seen photos of the Willingham house you know there were plenty of windows that could be broken in an emergency. If you've got one or more kids of your own then just imagine this was happening to you. You'd get at least one of those kids out or die trying.

Neighbors said Todd didn't try. They said he was standing out in the yard before there were any external signs of smoke or flame. They said he moved his car away to prevent it being scorched but made no effort to save the girls. They say he didn't know they were watching and only pretended to try to want to save his kids after witnesses arrived (firemen).

Maybe the neighbors were wrong but it doesn't matter. By his own words he intentionally left Amber to die. I'm not sure anyone can feel sorry for that guy.

Anonymous said...

Bullshit. When people wake up they are typically disoriented for a period of time and it's no surprise they don't always act logically or reasonably.

People saying they know for certainty what a person would do while never being awoken from sleep in a fire, and haven't had explained to them what exactly it is like to experience such a thing, have no business putting themselves in Willingham's shoes.

Why is it not possible that the extreme conditions and chaos of the moment overwhelmed his sense of parental responsibility and he just chose to save his own ass? The reason he was immediately suspected was the mere fact that he was alive. So now put yourself in his shoes.

You failed to save those three precious babies, explain to me how exactly it is you are alive but they aren't. And do it again and again and again and keep your story straight...all the while realizing that any father who doesn't give his life for the sake of his babies is worthless in the eyes of the rest of the human race, and is probably better off dead too.

Yea, there is no reason for his inconsistent statements but that he set the fire, and those taken together with the rock artist posters in the laundry room are proof that he was a devil worshiper and deserved to die.

I guess it's just that the whole world is against Texas because they are so independent minded after winning the war with Mexico and...blah blah blah. The victim game is getting tired folks. Wake up and take responsibility for yourselves. You didn't kill an innocent man, but you did kill a man who didn't deserve it. That's the problem the rest of the human race has with Texas. You have become the evil you claim to protect your innocents from.

Anonymous said...

I lost a lot of respect for you on this one, Grits.

First, it's her 1992 trial testimony I would take with a grain of salt... just lost 3 kids, still obviously fearful of the husband who beat her, staring at her in the courtroom, and as she said, at that time trying to believe he didn't do it.

Rather, compare her 2004 interview with her 2009 statement. Here are the links so readers don't have to go on the spin by the New Yorker or Chicago Tribune.
http://www.corsicanadailysun.com/archivesearch/local_story_246091758.html

http://www.star-telegram.com/texas/story/1709042.html

Keep in mind that in a newspaper story, you never know what the questions were or what the reporter left out of the response. But read what she said then and what she's saying now to see if she changed her story. She didn't.

Anonymous said...

“Willingham's own version of events was essentially a confession. He said that his two year old daughter Amber woke him up from a nap and alerted him to the fire. He said that he yelled at her and then exited the house, leaving Amber and the twin infants inside to die.”

A confession to what? That he was a dirty dog who saved his own skin instead of his children? If I remember correctly, he was convicted and executed for purposely setting the fire that killed those children, not for making no attempt to save them.

It's murder by arson to set the fire and allow the children to die, but if he did not deliberately set that fire, it's negligence through depraved indifference and that's not what he was he was charged with or convicted of.

You can't have it both ways. If you consider that his confession and he didn't set the fire, he may have been a lousy human being for not attempting to save the children. If in fact that is the case. But then Texas executed a man innocent of the charges they convicted him of.

Nor can we convict a man on the basis of the words of a wife whom he beat and who lives with the grief of the loss of her children and a hatred for a man who she feels should have either saved them or died in the attempt. Not without the scientific evidence to firmly back up that the fire was deliberate arson.

But then silly me, whatever am I thinking? This is Texas.

Just for the record, for all of you who think this guy got a fair trial to begin with, how many of you would feel comfortable having Willingham's attorney represent you in a murder trial and have complete confidence that he would do his best for you and present an aggressive and competent defense?

halides1 said...

Anonymous at 8:15,

What am I missing here? There is not one word about a supposed confession in the article from the Corsicana paper. I think David Grann's discussion of Stacy Kuykendall's statement is fair and insightful: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2009/10/stacy-kuykendall-statement.html. Even Judge Jackson concedes that Stacy has said different things at different times. Whatever it is you are selling, I am not buying.

Chris

Alan Bean said...

As this back-and-forth comments conversation illustrates, the issues in the Willingham case are extremely complex. When intelligent people presented with the same basic evidence can't arrive at a consensus you have reasonable doubt. The state presented ostensibly credible evidence in all the DNA exoneration cases as well. Prior to the release of the DNA results, most Texans would have agreed with the juries that convicted these people; but they were innocent. If we're going to hold the state to its proper burden some possibly guilty people will walk free. We can't know for sure if Willingham intentionally killed his children; but we do know that the forensic evidence in this case, properly interpreted, isn't strong enough to uphold a conviction.

Alan Bean

Anonymous said...

"we do know that the forensic evidence in this case, properly interpreted, isn't strong enough to uphold a conviction.

We don't know that because the evidence hasn't been properly re-interpreted. We know that Craig Beyler is a "whore of the court" investigator was paid $30,000 to advocate a particular conclusion. We know Beyler reached his conclusion without bothering to consult a man who actually was on site investigating the scene of the fire searching for accidental causes and points of origin. We know that man is certified in modern arson investigation and has disputed Beyler's claims. We don't know if Beyler's failure to interview this key witness was due to simple incompetence or if he was intentionally avoiding the truth in a perverted attempt to maintain plausible deniability.

We also know that anti-death penalty activists actually hope and pray than an innocent man was executed. They want to believe this although there is zero evidence that Willingham was innocent. Whatever shreds of credibility Beyler has left only remain because, contrary to claims of the activists, the Beyler report does not exclude arson as the cause of the blaze, nor does it identify an alternate cause. There is a big difference in saying "this was definitely an accidental fire" and saying that you "wouldn't make an affirmative finding of arson based on the evidence I reviewed."

You anti-death penalty activists reek of hypocrisy when they slam the "bad science" of the on-site arson investigators while simultaneously defending the flawed and incomplete methodology of the Beyler report. You don't care about the quality of the science unless it supports your preconceived notions.

Anonymous said...

This must be the basis of KB's smear campaign against RP. Is that it?

Anonymous said...

I've filed Texas Public Information Act requests for audio conversations between Texas Death Row offenders and their approved visitors. Each request was denied. If you (Mr. Grits) are serious about your Texas Public Information Act Request, then you should get an attorney now, then file a lawsuit against TDCJ after TDCJ officially denies your request for a copy of the audio tape of Willingham's visit with Stacy Kuykendall on or about February of 2004.

Anonymous said...

Anon @9:21AM:
"It's murder by arson to set the fire and allow the children to die, but if he did not deliberately set that fire, it's negligence through depraved indifference and that's not what he was he was charged with or convicted of."

That seems quite a leap to deem that negligence amounting to depraved indifference, at least as I understand the term.

It's clearly not simply "depraved indifference", because the standard for depraved indifference is firing guns into crowds of people, or driving a car through a crowded pedestrian area running people over, something that, while not specifically intending to kill any specific person, shows a callous disregard for human life. Saving one's own skin rather than one's children is cowardly, but it doesn't in the least stack up to be considered depraved indifference.

As I understand it, gross negligence amounting to depraved indifference requires that there is a legally bound duty of care in that scenario, one that binds even over their own safety.

It'd mean that, in other house fires, a parent who comes out of the house while any of his children remain in the house, for whatever reason, is guilty of gross negligence and would be guilty of murder should any of them not come out alive, because he or she didn't risk their own life in order to live up to their duty of care.

By holding parents to that standard, you would obligate a parent to remain in a burning building until they can safely ensure their children have already escaped the building. I consider that to be a frankly absurd standard to require people to live up to, especially in such a frantic and life-threatening scenario as being inside a burning building.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:10,
I would agree with you completely and as far as I am concerned your argument makes perfect sense to me. But the reality in today's social climate is, that if a DA thinks he can use it to file charges against a parent in what may be no more than an accidental death because of public outrage, that DA is going to file depraved indifference and use the same arguments we've been hearing the revolting peasants with their torches using here. I used it because in a number of conversations about this case, it was brought up. I apologize for not being clear.

Depraved indifference is defined by gross negligence, Willingham left the house without any of the children, he admitted he yelled at his two year old for waking him to tell him the house was on fire but didn't take her out of the house with him when he left, he was not severely burned in an attempt to rescue his children, he didn't give his own life for that of his children so in the eyes of some, his behavior would be considered depraved indifference because he “made no effort” to rescue his own children.

Do I agree with this assessment? Not at all. For one, I've read far too many conflicting reports of what happened that day. One story said he was more interested in saving his car, though one could speculate that perhaps he moved the car because it was something he could do to aid in the firefighters effort to rescue his children. A car exploding next to the house certainly would have hampered efforts. Another said he had been restrained from re-entering the building to go after his children. The stories go on and on and in the end, the only thing that matters is did he or did he not deliberately set that fire? It doesn't matter that he beat his wife, it doesn't matter if he was a particularly repugnant human being, that he liked hard rock and Satanic themed posters, that his wife hated him because he lived and the children died, it doesn't matter if he didn't manage to get his children out of the house before it burned.

The question still stands, did he deliberately light that fire? Did he deliberately cause his children to die? Does the science used at the time stand up to scrutiny? Did he receive an adequate defense? After everything I've seen and read, I would have to say no he did not to all of the above.

On a side note to Anon 11:15, that particular bit of nonsense isn't going to cut it. This Anon who sees enough doubt in this case to yell foul is a pretty firm believer in the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

So two weeks before his execution Willingham's brainstorm to save his ass was to confess to the mother of the three babies he murdered, after having 13 years to think about it, in the hope this would convince her to write a letter asking for clemency?

Really?

For some really bizarre reason I'm reminded of the famous quote of Oliver Wendell Holmes, the former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court who said, "three generations of imbeciles are enough!"

Yes, there was a time in America where if you happened to be a stupid bitch who got knocked up by a stupid piece of crap the state would put you in jail and compel you to undergo sterilization.

I'm also reminded of the retelling of the old parable in Oliver Stone's movie Natural Born Killers when Mickey was told "Look, you stupid bitch, you knew I was a snake when you picked me up."

I have no sympathy for Ms. Kuykendall. She married that piece of garbage and had not one but three babies with him. Now she wants to pretend she was just young, innocent and naive like her three daughters.

GTFO!

Anonymous said...

2:28

Awesome summation.

It's pretty damned pathetic you can find better legal representation on a minor blog than the whole state of Texas provides its indigent defendants.

(no offense, Scott)

halides1 said...

Anon. at 11:15,

Dr. Beyler was paid to write a report about arson investigations, not to weigh in on Mr. Willingham's guilt or lack thereof, and certainly not for his (unknown) views on the death penalty. Dr. Hurst's 2004 report was written pro bono, so the idea that he was paid to support a particular view is a non-starter. I will write more if I have time later.

Chris

Anonymous said...

So two weeks before his execution Willingham's brainstorm to save his ass was to confess to the mother of the three babies he murdered, after having 13 years to think about it, in the hope this would convince her to write a letter asking for clemency?

Really?


Yeah, really. Certainly have heard enough abusers tell the woman that she caused him to hit her and that she is the reason he is in jail - not because he beat the crap out of her.

This is just another variation: I murdered the kids because you said you were going to leave me. I only wanted you to stay. You made me do it. It's your fault. Feel sorry for me and write a damn letter asking for a pardon for me. It's the least you can do, biatch!

Anonymous said...

For one, I've read far too many conflicting reports of what happened that day. One story said he was more interested in saving his car, though one could speculate that perhaps he moved the car because it was something he could do to aid in the firefighters effort to rescue his children. A car exploding next to the house certainly would have hampered efforts. Another said he had been restrained from re-entering the building to go after his children.

Hardly conflicting. Did you consider the fact that he behaved differently when he thought no one was watching him than when there were people around? When he was observed initially, he showed no emotion. As more people gathered and the police and FD arrived, then he was the grieving father.

When the house windows blew out, then he yelled, "my car" and ran to move it so it wouldn't get damaged. He didn't give a shit about his kids or trying to help the fire dept. None of this is new. It's amazing how you have chosen to over look the obvious.

Boyness said...

He said...she said...yada yada yada! How about releasing the arson report because science doesn't lie? Maybe Stacy can get with Rick Perry and they can get there lie...uhm...I mean story together.

SB said...

And there isn't one of us who knows how we would act under the same set of circumstances.
It's nice to think we would be sane and rational. We would all be looked up to for burning to death trying to save our children.
What a different story this would be if four had died instead of three.

Anonymous said...

What a different story this would be if four had died instead of three.

What a different story this would have been if two had died instead of three! The reason he didn't save Amber is obvious; he wanted her to die. He killed her.

TDCJEX said...

Boyness said...
He said...she said...yada yada yada! How about releasing the arson report because science doesn't lie? Maybe Stacy can get with Rick Perry and they can get there lie...uhm...I mean story together.
10/28/2009 11:22:00 PM

-----------------------------------

In addition to the He said she said and the overall trying to make him guilty because he was not he nicest of people and of all things listened to heavy metal .Which of course makes you guilty That really is ridiculous and makes the pro side look foolish .

Why don' people wait until a recording of the alleged confession is released . It probably does not exist because he never said it and it would have been used against him in his final appeal which would be public Just go to the Federal courts web site and sign up for PACER here is the URL

http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/


If a confession did exist it would have been released by now Seeing this blog is read nationally more than likely there are lot s of open records request for it .

This puts Goodhair and and company is quite bind either they release it or it looks like a cover up. Not that the behavior of Gov Goodhair John Bradly and the disgraceful defense attorney and the fanatical Pros have been a stellar example of doing everyth9ongot look as if you have something to lose and hide by him being innocent . Their actions seem to indicate ther isa lot riding on this case than originally taught .

Anonymous said...

Lay off the defense attorney. He owes nothing to Willingham's ghost and he has a right to defend himself against accusations that he was ineffective. Only an ignorant person would believe that his recent statements bear any reflection to the work he did defending Willingham.

halides1 said...

Anon. at 10:15,

A person's interests last beyond their lifetime. Mr. Martin disclosed a work product (the burn experiment), which he should not have done. In so doing, he also made it clear he still does not understand a major thrust of what Hurst, Beyler, and others are saying: a visual inspection of "pour patterns" is meaningless in determining whether or not arson was committed. Mr. Martin went beyond trying to defend himself to attacking his client, and a reasonable person would question how effective his defense was. For one thing, he seems to have contacted only one arson expert as a possible rebuttal witness. One viewer of the Anderson video said that at first he thought that Mr. Martin was the prosecutor! His statements to the Corsicana paper ridicule the work of innocence projects. What could possibly justify that from any defense attorney?

Chris

Anonymous said...

And there isn't one of us who knows how we would act under the same set of circumstances.

Don't project, SB. Just because you claim to not know how you would act (and for the record I don't believe you), doesn't mean that others of us don't.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Martin went beyond trying to defend himself to attacking his client, and a reasonable person would question how effective his defense was.

Attacking his client? No, just stating facts in response to attacks on himself. And a reasonable person would be familiar with the case opinions where no IAC was found and not make false accusations.

Anonymous said...

"One viewer of the Anderson video said that at first he thought that Mr. Martin was the prosecutor!"


Anderson Cooper's advocacy journalism is clear from the start of that video. Just listen to him repeatedly refer to Willingham as "innocent" or "proven innocent" even though there is no such proof, nor has there ever been.

Cooper tells his audience that his interview guest is responsible for an innocent man being executed. I'm suprised the defense attorney didn't just call Cooper an damned liar and end the interview.

Although that defense attorney has a right to defend himself against Anderson Cooper's pseudo-journalistic trolling, in hindsight he probably wishes that he had just walked away. He got mad and took the bait.

Anonymous said...

To Anon 12:39

Of course the “defense” attorney had the right to defend himself.

If he did twice as good a job of defending Willingham in court as he did defending himself on Cooper's show, we'd still have an excellent case for insufficient counsel.

At least we would in pretty much any state but Texas.

Your type of defense of Martin is a prime example of both what is essentially wrong with the justice system in Texas and of how it got so wrong and remains that way despite all efforts to make corrections.

That was just one of a number of interviews involving Texas and this case that can only be described as physically painful. Rather like having a close and personal encounter with the Spanish Inquisition. He sounds not only like the village idiot, but to do a bit of paraphrasing, “The man doth protest too much, methinks.” in that he is incapable of accepting that over the years the science of arson investigations has changed and that he may have been wrong.

No lawyer with both honor and dignity would ever present themselves in such a manner. No lawyer with integrity would so slander a dead client to save face. Your defense of Martin and his actions is no more than a feeble grasping at straws to defend a fast sinking ship. The State of Texas buggered it up big time on this one and we all know it. The only question now is how long before they grow the balls to admit it?

halides1 said...

Anon. at 10:19 AM, Anon. at 11:47 AM, and Anon at 12:39 PM,

The attorney-client privilege belongs to the client and extends beyond his death (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Attorney+client+privilege); therefore, your assertion to the contrary is flat-out wrong. Mr. Willingham’s first appeal did not even raise the question of ineffective counsel, so the fact that it was not found in this instance is strictly meaningless. Anderson Cooper never once used the word “innocent.” Mr. Martin said, “there was no question whatsoever he was guilty.” Among the evidence he cited for this claim was a refrigerator that even the arson investigators was not part of the alleged crime. Mr. Martin ought to be ashamed of himself for violating professional norms.

Although you found time to utter the falsehoods I have debunked above, you did not challenge my main points. Disclosing a work-product was unethical, and this particular instance of it suggests that Mr. Martin is incapable of assimilating new information. Mr. Martin’s attack of innocence project, which have helped many wrongfully convicted persons regain their freedom, is indefensible. If you had an indigent relative accused of a major felony, would you be comfortable with having Mr. Martin defend him or her?

Chris

Boyness said...

The State of Texas buggered it up big time on this one and we all know it. The only question now is how long before they grow the balls to admit it?

10/29/2009 09:57:00 PM
------------------------------

YES THEY DID! Dont hold your breath as long as the wig is Governor. Hell, he wouldn't know the truth if it slapped him in the face.

Anonymous said...

Pointless to discuss legal issues using "sources" like thefreedictionary.com. Maybe you could just have a séance and ask the spirts about the law or ask Willingham why he did it.

halides1 said...

Anon. at 6:38 AM,

The NACDL said that the Supreme Court upheld the principle that the attorney-client privilege extends beyond the client's death (http://www.nacdl.org/MEDIA/pr000122.htm). Meanwhile you have not produced one scintilla of evidence to say otherwise or in any way shape or form to defend your position. This site deserves a better class of troll.

Chris

Anonymous said...

Fine. You linked to something that links to a case. Now try reading the case. It does not help your position.

I am unaware of his attorney repeating any confidential communications of Willingham. He has defended his work - which he has the right to do. That is not a violation of privilege. And again, if an atty is being accused of IAC they have the right to defend themselves.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Willingham’s first appeal did not even raise the question of ineffective counsel, so the fact that it was not found in this instance is strictly meaningless.

What is meaningless is what you wrote above. Since almost all IAC claims require evidence outside the record, they are not raised in an appeal.

Anonymous said...

No lawyer with integrity would so slander a dead client to save face.

No lawyer can slander the dead. Haven't we covered this subject already? And if Willingham were still alive, one could still not slander him. We covered that, too.

halides1 said...

Anon at 9:44 through 9:57,

"I am unaware of his attorney repeating any confidential communications of Willingham."

Disclosing a work product is a violation of attorney client privilege, and Mr. Martin did this by discussing the carpet-burning test that he repeatedly did during Anderson Cooper's interview. With respect to IAC I have seen no legal authority charge Mr. Martin with anything. Therefore, your argument that he has a right to defend himself is misleading. Moreover, as I have demonstrated above, defending oneself is not the same thing as declaring your client guilty beyond question. Since you have repeatedly failed to support anything that you have said with facts or logic, you have in effect conceded all of my points. Thank you.

Chris

halides1 said...

To all,

Here is a link to comments about Mr. Martin,

http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/9489/lawyers-speaking-out-in-response-to-todd-willinghams-utterly-disgraceful-trial-attorney

Chris

TDCJ EX said...

The whole attorney client privilege issue has been discussed by attorneys .


A few real defense attorneys discuss Martins unethical behavior here

http://www.capitaldefenseweekly.com/blog/?p=5101

Some case law in case you are so inclined to read it .

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&court=US&case=/us/524/399.html

Defending him will not make Mr Willingham guilty . That is really grasping for something to make him guilty .

But back to the alleged confession. TDCJ has not released any recording yet and it will not because there is not one .

Yes you can be brought to court by the estate or surviving relatives of the deceased if it harms their reputation or causes financial loss . Go find a law library and start reading or pay for the privilege to access one online

The more Goodhair ,TDCJ and the Pro DP fanatics cover up the worse it looks for them . Now they have to produce this confession and cannot .

This is looking like Goodhair and company have something serious to hide. All their covering up does is cause the media to dig deeper that they do not get it shows how arrogant and out of touch with reality they are . It is s possible they do have something serious to hide that goes beyond Willingham ? Goodhair and company sure are acting that way

By defending this unethical attorney Willingham is guilty ? That is not even remotely logical .

Anonymous said...

halides1 the legal opinion you posted contradicts your assertion regarding exceptions to the privilege. This, together with your use of thefreedictionary.com as a source for legal arguments and your nonsensical references to work-product makes it clear you should keep away from those substituted phenylethylamines in your day job. TDCJ EX seems like a law professor compared to you.

Whatever. This off topic. This thread was about the reliability of the grieving mother's statements and the remorseless insensitivity of Mr. Grits and the rest of you Monday Morning Quarterbacks who brand her a liar because you don't like what she says. There is something wrong with y'all.

halides1 said...

Anonymous at 12:48.

You are giving out insults, not arguments. Identify the supposed contradiction or quit posting.

Chris

TDCJ EX said...

Anonymous cyber bully

If a person no matter who they are makes drastically conflicting statements to the media they can most certainly expect to be questioned about it a . It does not matter who or what they are.

Using the Status of a crime victim to silence a debate about a very serious issue as in do we convict innocent people and execute some of them is reprehensible .

That no one thought that it is possible that some one familiar with how TDCJ death row operates and what goes on when a person is on Deathwatch is Simply stupid, ignorant ,arrogant or all of the former

Maybe they thought no one is ever released from Polunsky?

Anonymous Cyber Bully, why don't you go find this confession . I am sure TDCJ will give it to you with Goodhairs blessings !

Anonymous said...

The case you refer to has nothing to do with IAC. An assertion of IAC is an implicit waiver of attorney client privilege. You want case authority? Look it up yourself. We’re not talking about new law here.

When Willingham asserted IAC in his first writ of h.c., he waived privilege. Your claim that there was never a charge of IAC, is an out and out lie.

You are a dishonest, misleading, annoying, little twerp who is attempting to lie and bullshit your way here. You are the ultimate troll.

TDCJ EX said...

Annon Cyber Bully

What is your agenda ? You have some desperate need for Willingham to be guilty do you have something to hide? You sure act it . Maybe you need looking into ?

Maybe you can spend some qualtiy time in TDCJ.
Something is just not adding up Cyber bully .Maybe you got some explaining to do ?

You sure act like some one who has a lot riding on this.Why not let the chips fall where they will.

No amount of cyber bullying will make Willingham guilty . Get over it .

If he did not do it . So what get over it. The aystem needa fixing big time, big deal Time to fix it .

Perhaps you have a reason to worry he might be innocent you sure act it .

The guy is dead can't fix that . If some else did something to make sure he was executed well that is another matter . Not a pleasnt thought either That is a whole new area .

Annon Cyber Bully you protest too loudly as they say . Things that make you go HMMM .


Lets see if there is a recoreded confession .Of course there is not one .

This looks like more than one person got cuaght in a huge lie and now is very desperate to get out of it .

Or do you not get it ?

Anonymous said...

Disclosing a work product is a violation of attorney client privilege...

The court stated that its ruling was based on atty client priviledge and not work product. Stop lying in every post.

halides1 said...

To the Anonymous poster(s),

You were the one to bring up attorney client privilege, falsely implying that it does not survive death (10:19:00 AM). You also falsely asserted (12:39:00 PM) that Anderson Cooper referred to Mr. Willingham as innocent. I viewed this video again, and Mr. Cooper never said any such thing. Far from being an ambush, the Chicago Tribune reporter went out of his way to hand Mr. Martin an opportunity to explain himself, noting that the arson expert Mr. Martin had consulted had later changed his mind about what the evidence did or did not show. Mr. Martin could have then argued with a modicum of truth that the case does indeed look different in hindsight, but he gratuitously attacked his client.

You attacked Dr. Beyler’s credibility without troubling yourself to find any evidence. You failed to respond to my point that Dr. Hurst’s report was done pro bono.

You might have pointed out that the attorney-client privilege is not the same thing as the work product doctrine in a civil manner. However, if Mr. Martin and Mr. Willingham discussed the pseudo-scientific test that Mr. Martin and his fellow attorney performed (which I find plausible), then Mr. Martin would be on very thin ice with respect to this privilege, absent a very good reason. Can you provide a link that shows that Mr. Willingham waived this privilege? I claimed only that Mr. Willingham’s first appeal did not raise ineffective counsel, not that he never raised this issue; please stop uttering falsehoods.

The more important issue is whether Mr. Martin’s present comments are within professional norms. Here is a simple question that demands a straightforward answer. Why do you disagree with the lawyers who have criticized Mr. Martin’s actions on ethical grounds?

And now you have the temerity to bring up Stacy Kuykendall’s quite understandable pain and heartache as part of your attack on Scott’s post. Those of us who comment on this case ought to respect that Ms. Kuykendall has experienced things most of us can only begin to imagine and should tread carefully. I might be more convinced of your sincerity had you also brought Mr. Willingham’s stepmother Eugenia into your comments (http://www.star-telegram.com/242/story/1722713.html). Here is a woman who lost three grandchildren, then saw her son executed partly on the basis of forensic arguments that some of the most well respected names in the field have totally dismantled. Now she has to see her former daughter-in-law make statements that harm her stepson’s memory at a critical juncture in the case, statements a reasonable person such as Scott would at least question. Shame on you for ignoring her pain.

Chris

Anonymous said...

You might have pointed out that the attorney-client privilege is not the same thing as the work product doctrine in a civil manner.

Why? When have you been civil to anyone? And you could try reading your own authority and stop lying and misleading everyone first.

However, if Mr. Martin and Mr. Willingham discussed the pseudo-scientific test that Mr. Martin and his fellow attorney performed (which I find plausible), then Mr. Martin would be on very thin ice with respect to this privilege, absent a very good reason.

Bullshit. You never stop making shit up.

Can you provide a link that shows that Mr. Willingham waived this privilege?

Lexis-nexus.

I claimed only that Mr. Willingham’s first appeal did not raise ineffective counsel, not that he never raised this issue; please stop uttering falsehoods.

Because it is not raised in an appeal, therefore, your statement was irrelevant, ignorant, and deliberately misleading. Stop lying and misleading people. It is obvious you don't know what the hell you are talking about but are arrogant to think you are qualified to give legal opinions. You are not.

halides1 said...

Anonymous at 9:41 AM,

I have not claimed you lied, or called anything that you said BS, or claimed that you said something that you did not. By these criteria, I have been civil, and you have not. Moreover, although I acknowledge that I may have said something that was in error, I have not lied about anything. Please answer the following questions (one of which you have evaded): One, why do you disagree with the lawyers who have criticized Mr. Martin’s actions on ethical grounds? Two, what scientific fault do you find with the reports of the last six years that have called the finding of arson into question?

Chris

Anonymous said...

I haven't lied or tried to b.s. my way through a subject that I have no knowledge of - you have and you have done so repeatedly. And, no, you have not been civil.

halides1 said...

Anonymous at 3:20 PM,

“Stop lying and misleading people. It is obvious you don't know what the hell you are talking about but are arrogant to think you are qualified to give legal opinions.”

One cannot lie if one does not know what one is talking about; it’s a flat-out contradiction. If you cannot be civil, you might at least try being logical.

Here is a third question that you have evaded. By repeatedly citing his carpet pseudo-experiment, Mr. Martin showed that he still does not understand that floor patterns cannot be interpreted by eyeball. The Daily Corsican reported the following: “The Innocence Project is an absolute farce,” Martin said. “It’s a bunch of hype, in my opinion.” Would you be comfortable with an indigent friend or relative being defended by Mr. Martin?

If you started answering my questions, it might make a positive contribution in this discussion, something that you have largely avoided until now.

Chris

halides1 said...

Anonymous at 4:31,

"When Willingham asserted IAC in his first writ of h.c., he waived privilege."

There are fewer excuses for that sort of overstatement coming out of the mouth of a lawyer than a nonlawyer. Waiver is limited.

Chris

TDCJ EX said...

Annonymous Cyber bully thinks that by insulting , name callng and making fun of typos he will be right . He is Either Dudley Crawford Sharp III or one of his JFA Neo Nazis fanatics .

Ignore Dudley and the JFA Neo Nazis . Some dat soon they wil have some expalianing to do .

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to see the speculation here about Goodhair's motivations to "cover up". Apparently those who think he is doing so don't understand the Texas conservative political ideology which drives his constituency. That is strange coming from people who actually live here. They, of all people, should get it.

Any "cover up" by Goodhair is like the smirking denial of a delinquent who is boasting about his guilt out of one side of his mouth and shining with pride over his offense, while issuing a token denial to the authorities to avoid punishment. The pathology of the conservative political ideology which has consumed Texas is apparently widely underestimated and misunderstood. The people who keep the likes of Goodhair in his gig don't care whether Willingham set the fire or not. They simply believe local law enforcement and prosecutors should be the sole arbiters of life and death for people of Willingham's socio-economic status and character, and they think it is perfectly good justice to hang Willingham for who he was -- regardless of what he allegedly did. To get votes in Texas, you only have prove one thing: You believe local police authorities are right and you support them no matter what they do. Facts don't matter to these people. The only definition of justice for these people is deference to authority and power. Supporting the blue is what matters.

If the locals in Corsicana decided that Willingham deserved to die, then the people who vote in this state -- the people who Goodhair depends on -- think he ought to be dead. Whether he set the fire or not doesn't matter to them one itoa. In order to understand Texas politics, you have to understand the authoritarian personality. Nothing would be better for Goodhair's campaign than for him to stick to his guns that Willingham deserved to die even if he is proven absolutely factually innocent. He would get several tens of thousands more votes for making fun of Willingham's misfortune and supporting his execution even if Willingham was absolutely and unequivocally exonerated.

The people who vote for Goodhair are held together by a simple social and political philosophy: If the local police want to kill Willingham, they have the right to do so, period. The local authorities work for the wealthy interests in their jurisdiction, and those interests have the right to administer any brand of justice they wish. The psychological world of these people is stabilized by authority -- absolute authority of police and prosecutors. The role of government, in the view of Goodhair's constituents, is to support and maintain that authority structure. Goodhair has no political reason to cover anything up. Killing an innocent who the local authorities wanted dead could only be a feather in his cap. If the state machine accidently-on-purpose fried a lower class male of questionable character like Willingham, then it would be a cause for celebration for them. The only reason Goodhair would be respected for a cover up is if he could spin it to show that lying about it would save the state monetary losses. Then the constituency would see his cover up as "political skill", but they would still expect Goodhair to maintain that the locals had the right to hang Willingham if they wanted to for any reason they wanted to.

The key element here is the display of arbitrary power -- "Tuff" as they like to call it. If the prosecutor murdered Willingham and Goodhair helped them get away with it, and they all met at the local watering hole to celebrate their accomplishment, Goodhair would be guaranteed the governorship by the voters of Texas. Nothing would make them more proud.

Remember the last president? It takes a special kind of place to produce people like that! Human rights and justice isn't real high on the list of values!

Anonymous said...

@First commenter (Anonymous at 1:45, 10/27) -- Ms. Kuykendall was talking about Amber, her oldest daughter, who was taken to the same hospital as Willingham was. Doctors tried to revive her before pronouncing her dead. It's obvious that what Ms. Kuykendall means is that she left Todd and went down the hall (or to the room next door, or whatever) to be with her oldest daughter's body. Do you honestly think she would lie about, or be mistaken about, the fact that all her children died in a fire?

For what it's worth, I think Texas did kill an innocent man in this case -- and I'm horrified, and think that those responsible should be held to account. But (and this is addressed not only to the commenter but to Grits and David Grann)-- can't we argue our points without attacking Stacy Kuykendall and calling her a liar and worse?

Try to imagine what she went through. I'm sure that for years after she defended her husband, all her friends and family were like "Oh, honey, all these scientific experts say that Todd must have done it. Why are you denying the scientific truth? You must have battered-wife syndrome and you've been brainwashed by a monster" and so on. And as the years went by, she probably gave in to that idea. It might even be emotionally easier to believe that an evil monster killed your kids, than that the universe is random and things like this just happen for no reason.

And then once she accepted that idea, she could hardly change her mind again. The cognitive dissonance would drive anyone crazy.

The final death-row conversation is truly ambiguous. She interpreted it as him confessing to the murder. That's her right.

I think it would be best to concentrate on the fact that flawed science and poor defense led to an execution where reasonable doubt was not proved. Let's leave the character assassination to the other side. We're better than that.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:00 asks, "can't we argue our points without attacking Stacy Kuykendall and calling her a liar and worse"?

I've mostly tried on this blog to stick to the forensic issues, and to my knowledge I haven't called Kuykendall anything "worse" than a liar. But if she's going to put herself out there and espouse positions that contradict her previous claims, including ones made under oath, IMO it's impossible to consider her statements without openly discussing that "dissonance," as you put it. The Dudley Sharps of the world would like us to think, "He confessed, she said it, there's nothing more to discuss here." But that's not a reasonable conclusion based on her inconsistent statements.

Really who you should blame for this line of argument isn't the media but her family members who gave affidavits about what she'd supposedly said at a private family meeting. They violated her confidence and made claims on her behalf that she herself contradicted consistently from the time of the fire at least through 1999, when she last gave a recorded interview. They hung her out to dry, then she changes her story to support their statements when the Corsicana Sun and their city manager begin waving their hearsay claims around as proof of Willingham's guilt. That's not my fault, but if that's how her family, the newspaper and city government in Corsicana are going to engage in the debate, IMO others shouldn't be criticized for publicly evaluating the credibility of the conflicting claims being presented.

Anonymous said...

From 7:00 -- Thanks for your thoughtful response. I appreciate you addressing my point.

Anonymous said...

“Remember the last president? It takes a special kind of place to produce people like that! Human rights and justice isn't real high on the list of values!”

It sure does take a “special” kind of place. Call it what you will, conservative political ideology, blame it on religion, too many years of chronic inbreeding, or something in the water, but I've traveled to some “interesting” places in my life and of all of them, including the ones with bombs blowing up things, the ones where you could get shot at for kicks, the ones where you could “disappear” for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time or where you must deal with officials who would sell their mother into prostitution on a whim, Texas is the one place that really scares me. Visiting Texas has me looking over my shoulder, jumping at odd noises and just in what an acquaintance once called, “battlefield mode”. Something they thought terribly funny.

In Texas I carry cash and my passport around like a security blanket, am always aware of my proximity to the state line or border and for as much as I love my friends and family there, it's so much nicer when we meet on neutral ground. Like Louisiana. Maybe it's paranoia, maybe it's really something in the water, or maybe I'm just allergic to the whole state, but I'm more comfortable vacationing in third world countries during political unrest, the odd tourist joint during catastrophic natural disasters and found New Orleans in the early days following Katrina relaxing compared to my average visit to just about anywhere in Texas. And the odd thing is that I've not broken any laws that I'm aware of, there's no real reason for any of this. Maybe it's just a heightened sense of survival.

Forget Denver....Get out of Texas baby.

steambadger said...

Just because you claim to not know how you would act... doesn't mean that others of us don't.

You don't, unless you've been in a fire -- and I mean a real fire, not an exploding barbecue or a smoldering sofa you put out with the fire extinguisher. If you have been trapped in a burning building, and you behaved calmly and courageously, then I salute you. If you haven't, then you should really shut the hell up.

SB said...

Steambadger,
I had to standby helplessly as the life drained out of my child. I survived because it was like an out of body experience. None of my reactions were what I expected.
So you have been through a fire and handled it calmly. Good for you! You really don't seem like a calm person. Your fire was not a duplicate of the Willingham fire so don't pull your with me. It sounds more like you were in firefighting school at College Station. I don't care. When you awake from a deep sleep and your home is blazing the first thing I wondered is if I were still asleep and if running from the fire is part of a nightmare. You expect Willingham to react in a professional manner and it didn't happen. And out of dozens of posts I wonder how I hit a nerve.
I don't know what happened but I can say for sure that today there is certainly reasonable doubt. I shut up a long time ago because I had nothing factual to add.You should do the same and take your emotions elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

I guess you all still don't get it. It doesn't matter how Willingham reacted to the fire. He was not supposed to be convicted of reacting badly, he was supposed to be convicted of deliberately setting the fire to willfully kill his children.

So I'll say it again. We're not supposed to charge, convict and execute people for being the kind of human being we don't approve of. Not for reacting badly in emergencies. Not for being cowards who don't save their own children. Not for liking hard rock. Not for admiring Satanic art. Not even for actually being Satanists if that's what floats their boat. We're not supposed to execute people for being what we don't want them to be.

We do charge, convict and execute people who deliberately and willfully murder others. Now if you can show me proof positive that he willfully and deliberately set the fire with the intention of causing the death of his children, I'll say okay. Until then, speculating what one may do during a fire or other emergency is meaningless. As is speculation on the quality of Willinghams character, that of his wife and their extended families.

If you wish to have a legal system that works with gossip, assumptions and the prejudices of the local yahoos, congratulations. Mission accomplished. If you wish to have a legal system that works with the presumption of innocent until proven guilty, works in a fair and just manner and is concerned with justice and truth over numbers and dollars, there's a very long way to go.

SB said...

Yeah, I get it so cut the crap long enough to see who agrees with you and who doesn't. My post was in reply to someone else's post that was hotly defending Willingham's conviction.
If there was a confession on tape pr anywhere else it would have been used to slap the rest of us down. I expect that we have executed more than one innocent man just as we have convicted many innocent men. That this is the tip of the ice berg is only how I feel.
The name Todd Willingham has caused a lot of people to stop, question and take an interest in our brand of justice. No, I don't think Willingham was guilty and I hope the hell that his legacy is to bring change. It is time to stop the persecution, convictions and even executions of those that are disliked. There is a difference between morals and crimes but our society today is even quicker to pass judgment. Piss people off and they will be looking for an opportunity to bring you down.
We have this great saying of "Kill them all and let God sort them out".
That seems to be the theme in TX. To hell with guilt or innocence in the case that got them there He just wasn't a very nice person and that is enough for vicious minds and politics.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:27, that is the most cogent explanation of the death penalty farce in Texas I have ever heard.

You really need your own blog.

Jean said...

I totally believe that Cameron Todd Willingham murdered his 3 kids in cold blood to get back at his wife; and/or to get rid of his unwanted kids because they were an impediment to his lifestyle.

It wasn't just the arson evidence, but also eyewitness evidence as to his behavior and other things after the fire.

The evidence clearly shows that Cameron Todd Willingham did murder his 3 daughters and even confessed to another inmate that he murdered his 3 kids and even confessed to his ex-wife that he murdered their 3 kids.

Also his ex-wife supported him in the beginning and later became absolutely convinced of his guilt in the murders of her 3 kids.

Also, the defense attorney who defended him at trial came to believe that he, in fact, did commit these murders.

Also, his actions when the house first started burning, and later on...were not the actions of an innocent man. His story changed, I understand, 27 times. And you say he is innocent?

He had full review by every court in this country many, many times and they upheld his guilt every time. And you tell me this monster and scumbag and murderer of 3 innocent little girls is innocent?

If he were innocent, then those 3 adorable little girls would still be alive.

He deserved execution for these cruel, vicious murders and he got a gentle death for the vicious, cruel, inhumane, and heinous murders of his 3 daughters.

Goodbye, and good riddance, monster and scumbag!

The report by Beyler is a pack of lies, gross errors and distortions of the truth, and extreme anti-death penalty propaganda by anti-death penalty fanatics who will stop at nothing to deprive the surviving relatives of murder victims of any justice and closure by doing any ridiculous stunt possible to stop the rightful carrying out of the death penalty to vicious, mad dog killers who deserve execution.

All they talk about is the murderer...not a word about the victim or what they suffered.

The city of Corsicana had their Fire Department issue a 21-page rebuttal to the pack of lies by Beyler which is chock-full of death-penalty propaganda by anti-death penalty extremists. It was pretty convincing...1,000 times more convincing than Mr. Beyler's pack of lies, deliberate distortions of the truth, gross errors and other wrongdoing in this so-called "report".

I also believe Ms. Kuykendall. I read her statement 5 times and the more I read it the more I am convinced that she is telling the truth.

Leave Ms. Kuykendall alone and don't cause her more pain. Let her have some peace and comfort in knowing that the vicious, mad-dog killer of her 3 adorable babies has paid for his monstruos crime.

I am a housefire survivor myself. The fire was definitely arson and I almost died in that fire. My injuries are permanent. We know why the fire happened; we just don't know who did it. The fire marshall said "cause undetermined...still investigating".

A house can burn down in half the time you think it can. My injuries are permanent and I have to live with them the rest of my life. Oh well. But I did object to being murdered so I tried my best to survive and I did...but with serious injuries. You never forget that smell or the way the smoke looks that comes from a burning house.

SB said...

Jean. Much of what you say is opinion with no proof to back it up. It sounds like you have a dog in this fight. Did you know these family members? Are you a relative?
Do we take the word of a jailhouse snitch? Why are the tapped conversations with Stacy being release? If there was a conversation it would be available.Through long posts here I would say there is reasonable doubt. When in doubt don't execute. Life without parole is also life without hope. Tx has made many mistakes on death row inmates and sentencing was done in the usual way. There was the appearance of a solid case. I would bet you decided Willingham's guilt before the jury did.

Jean said...

From the totality of the evidence, not just the physical evidence at the scene, but from what the witnesses saw and heard and from the trial testimony and from the city of Corsicana's rebuttal to Mr. Beyler's pack of lies and extreme anti-death penalty propaganda, it is pretty obvious that he did, in fact, commit these murders.

I have survived an actual housefire that was much, much worse that the one that Mr. Willingham set so as to kill his 3 innocent little children. Trust me, I know more about fires than you probably do.

What convinces me, more than anything, is that he refused to go back in the house when it was first smoldering. Also, he could have gotten at least one of the children out of that house. Why didn't he? Also, he changed his story on the fire, I understand, about 27 times. I am not even considering any evidence about arson. I am considering the TOTALITY of the evidence. The fire was NOT started by electricity or by gas. That was ruled out. This scumbag murderer LIED about everything. He also confessed to 2 people: the other inmate and his ex-wife...just before his much-deserved execution.

I read the 21-page rebuttal by Corsicana's Fire Chief, Donald McMullan and it is pretty convincing.

I have read and googled and read everything I can find on this tragedy. I will tell you that fires don't set themselves. Accidents do NOT happen and this fire was NO accident. So if it was NOT an accident, then it was murder...an intentionally set fire...meant to kill those 3 adorable kids.

Down in Florida, they have the Casey Anthony murder case where that monster of a mother murdered her 2-year-old daughter, Cayley Anthony and they are going for the death penalty and she is so obviously guilty. I see the same pattern in his case as I see in her case...lack of remorse, continuously changing their stories, continuously lying and telling fantastic stories that are clearly true.

Only a person who is obviously prejudiced or biased against the death penalty or Stacy Kuykendall will refuse to see the plainly obvious guilt of this monster, and of the one in Florida. Both scumbags, and both monsters. I was almost murdered in a housefire...it was a firebomb. We know how it happened, and we know why...we just don't know WHO did it.

When my brother was murdered in Florida by a serial killer, the law enforcement covered up his murder [1st-degree, no less] and let his murderer go scot-free because her family had money and connections. They called it an accidental death, but we know better. Also, my cousin in another state was murdered by her husband, and again, it was covered up by the so-called "justice system" and law enforcement...another "accidental death". Another cousin murdered in California...the murderer received a slap on the wrist...because he was wealthy and had connections, apparently.

The coroner who did the autopsy on my murdered brother SAID it was murder, but the corrupt law enforcement and corrupt, so-called "judicial system" in Florida, deliberately and intentionally covered up his murder and others as well.

I see the same pattern of Willingham's lies & deception, and the TOTALITY of the evidence in Willingham's case. He clearly is guilty...no doubt about it. I have racked my brain to come up with any explanation for his supposed "innocence", but I cannot come up with any conclusion but that he is GUILTY as sin. His behavior from the moment that he set the fire until his execution proves that.

Also, I am NOT going to call a grieving mother, Ms. Kuykendall, a LIAR, when she SAYS that he confessed to her. Nor am I going to call a fellow inmate who testified that Willingham confessed to him a liar either. So there.

Jean said...

PS: In my 5th paragraph, I said "Accidents do NOT happen and this fire was NO accident."

I meant to say "Accidents just do NOT happen right out of a clear blue sky with no possible explanation as to what caused it and this fire was NO accident."

Also, I could have posted as "Anonymous" but chose to use my actual name.

Jean said...

Another correction:

Paragraph 6, I said "I see the same pattern in his case as I see in her case...lack of remorse, continuously changing their stories, continuously lying and telling fantastic stories that are clearly true."

I meant to say "I see the same pattern in his case as I see in her case...lack of remorse, continuously changing their stories, continuously lying and telling fantastic stories that are clearly NOT true."

SB said...

Jean, we certainly agree that the system lacks justice. Why are people out to kill all the members of your family?
You have seen haphazard prosecutions yet you think everything in the Willingham case was done exactly right. He didn't have money to buy innocence and kids do start fires. The guilty sometimes get away with murder. Look at O. J. The poor that depend on court appointed attorneys get convicted. There is the possibility that some of those executed were innocent. The system is corrupt.

Jean said...

I strongly believe that OJ was guilty as sin and that he got away with murder. The dead giveaway in his case was that he did not kill the kids in the house to eliminate all possible witnesses when he knew they were there. No self-respecting murderer would leave witnesses alive that could possibly identify them and there is NO way that the murderer was that sloppy in his actions that he would let witnesses live. He would have made sure to eliminate them too as all the world knew she had kids in the house. That's why I know OJ did it as he let the kids live because they were HIS kids. There you are. Another scumbag murderer got away with murder.

Katy Hall got away with the murder because her family had lots of local clout and money and had connections with the local law enforcement. They would never pursue her even tho they knew how to find her.

You CAN get away scot-free in Florida with premeditated 1st-degree murder if you know the right people and have money and other connections. I lived in that hellhole for 25 years and I finally got out. My whole family knows that James was murdered and so said the coroner who did the autopsy on my murdered brother.

I no longer live in that corrupt hellhole but I still have family there and I have to go back in December to see the family as my sister is seriously ill due to extreme medical malpractice by quacks with a medical degree and license. Florida doctors are the worst in the nation.

I used to be against the death penalty until I started looking at and thinking about the victim and I stopped worrying about mad-dog killers who deserve execution and nothing less. Anti-death penalty do not even think for 1 second about the murder victims and their survivors because all they care about is the mad-dog killer.

The only thing that should be considered is justice for the VICTIMS...not the criminal who murdered.

The ONLY question should be is IF the killer did it or not.

Then the next question should be, WHEN to execute the murderer...and that's all.

Anyone who opposes the death penalty, opposes justice for the victim, and is uncivilized, and extremely barbaric. They put me in mind of Adolph Hitler...the only people who deserve rights is the ones he thought should deserve rights.

These are the same people who would murder a baby at nine months of pregnancy and call it a woman's right. As a mother of 6 kids, how can murdering a baby before birth be a right? And what gives them the right to refuse to call it murder and persecute people who in good conscience oppose it.

I used to be against the cold-blooded murder of unborn babies up to the 3rd month...until I found out they do it up to 9 months, even minutes before birth for ANY reason. Then I became AGAINST murder...before birth and after birth. So there.

Jean said...

Correction: Paragraph 5: I said "Anti-death penalty do not even think for 1 second about the murder victims and their survivors because all they care about is the mad-dog killer."

I meant: "Anti-death penalty people do not even think for 1 second about the murder victims and their survivors because all they care about is the mad-dog killer."

Sorry...in a hurry because I have to go somewhere.

And yes, I like grits.

Jean said...

And one more thing, before I have to go...

My brother's MURDER was deliberately and intentionally covered up by the sheriff's dept. in Hendry Country, Florida and other people involved. We know this for a fact.

Jean said...

Correction again: I said in my 1:46 pm post: "I used to be against the cold-blooded murder of unborn babies up to the 3rd month...until I found out they do it up to 9 months, even minutes before birth for ANY reason. Then I became AGAINST murder...before birth and after birth. So there."

I meant: "I used to be FOR the cold-blooded murder of unborn babies up to the 3rd month...until I found out they do it up to 9 months, even minutes before birth for ANY reason. Then I became AGAINST murder...before birth and after birth. So there."

SB said...

Let's look at the views of 10 families whose loved ones were taken.

Many of the victims’ families expected closure after last night’s execution of John Allen Muhammad, the DC Sniper who killed 10 people over a three week period in 2002. But it seems that most of them felt grief and sadness instead. Many of the victim’s family members said that Muhammad’s death doesn’t change anything and it doesn’t bring family members back.

Muhammad died by lethal injection Tuesday night while his victims’ survivors watched through a one way mirrored window. Muhammad said nothing before his death when given a chance to make a final statement and he was pronounced dead at 9:11 pm.
http://www.examiner.com/x-27745-SF-Headlines-Examiner~y2009m11d1-The-family-of-the-Richmond-California-gang-rape-victim-is-calling-for-positive-action
One of these family members expressed feeling of horror as he watched the life being purposely drained from this man’s body. There is no doubt this man was evil but as long as he was alive there was someone to blame for the pain and suffering of those left behind. The hurt and suffering did not end with this execution. The general feeling is that they were given an additional burden to carry and there is no place to direct these emotions. Execution is a one-time shot unless someone messes up. That is the end of the quest for closure and it falls far short of what is expected.

SB said...

I put the wrong link to the story above but can find the correct one.
It is a good link with a victim's family calling for anger to be turned around and used in a positive way.
We have a system you do not trust but you give them your blessing to carry out executions of your choice.
Todd Willingham was a young man. His suffering would have gone on and on with life in prison. Execution set him free.

Jean said...

Katy Hall, the murderer of my brother James on Sept. 15, 1991 in Hendry County, Florida...had stabbed one guy but he survived. She was never charged in this attempted 1st-degree murder. Then she stabbed another man and he died. She was never charged in this 1st-degree murder. Then she stabbed my brother and he died. She was never charged in this 1st-degree murder either.

Then, I was told, she went to a northern state and committed another 1st-degree murder, but, as she was in a different state, she was tried and convicted of 2nd-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years-to-life in prison...so I am told.

Her name is Katy Hall, aka Jeri Kay Hall. She was about 37 in 1991 when she cold-bloodedly murdered my brother. Tell me that she did not deserve the electric chair. She committed three 1st-degree murders, and an attempted 1st-degree murder, yet she was never charged in the other 2 murders, nor in the attempted 1st-degree murder. Why? They had the evidence...they could have sent her to the electric chair but they refused to do anything about these murders and the attempted murder. Why?

I saw the mattress cover that my brother was bleeding to death on. It has a blood stain about 2 feet across...I believe. My sister still has it. A big pool of blood on it. She kept it just in case that corrupt so-called "justice system" decided to prosecute the serial killer who murdered my brother but they never did.

You CAN commit murder in Florida and get away with it. You just have to know the right people, have enough clout, and enough money and you can do like OJ did...commit any murders you want and walk away scot-free without punishment.

Any ideas, any comments?

Jean

SB said...

The system is corrupt but nowhere is as bad as FL. But justice is to sell to the highest bidder. O.J. had more money to spend than the prosecutor.
I have no faith in the system. I don't trust government to execute people. I don't trust evidence they put out for the public. I don't trust laws they make. One person cannot bring about change and most people don't worry about it.
The abuse of power is everywhere. Maybe you can write you story based on the facts you have and put it out in the media. Publicity sometimes shakes some things loose.

Jean said...

My brother Frank has already contacted the governor of Florida a couple of times but he would not do anything about it. So much for that.

Everything I said is the absolute truth. We all have to live with the tragic loss of our beloved brother. He did not deserve to die the way he did. There were over 200 people at his funeral. A mexican guy and his wife were standing there with tears streaming down their cheeks. Our brother was their "amigo". Our brother was popular and well-liked.

We have never gotten over the loss of our beloved brother. His name was James Patrick "Hambone" Brown. He was born on Aug. 30, 1963 at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas and he died on Sun. Sept. 15, 1991 at 10:19 pm at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida.

We took the loss of Hambone real hard, and as I said, we have never gotten over it and we all still have problems dealing with it after all these years.

What was the hardest, was KNOWING that he was murdered, but the law enforcement and judicial system deliberately and intentionally covered up his murder and others and called it an accidental death; although the coroner who did the autopsy said no way was it an accidental death, it was murder and nothing else but murder. Oh well, I will leave it in the hands of God, and He will punish this cold-blooded murderer severely with no mercy as she showed no mercy to my brother and murdered him for nothing.

Hambone was known to have told people 6 weeks before he was murdered that he was afraid that she was going to murder him. Also, one day when we were visiting our sister, 6 weeks before the murder, I saw my beloved brother look back at his soon-to-be murder with a look of such fear and terror on his face as I had never seen before on my brother's face and he was not known to be afraid of anyone.

Hambone was only 28 when he was murdered...2 weeks after his 28th birthday. He was born the day before my 9th birthday. We all miss him so much.

Because I believe in a God, I look forward to seeing my beloved brother again someday. This is a great comfort and solace. It still hurts terribly when I think about James aka "Hambone". I gave him the nickname "Hambone" when I was a kid in California and it stuck. He said he had been called "Hambone" for so long that he felt like it was his name and he felt strange when he was called by his name James.

We all love him so much. He was never married nor did he have any kids. He figured someday. The women loved my brother. He had a way with women and treated them real nice. Just a bad one finally did him in.

Any ideas, any comments?

Jean

Jean said...

Correction again. I said: "Also, one day when we were visiting our sister, 6 weeks before the murder, I saw my beloved brother look back at his soon-to-be murder with a look of such fear and terror on his face as I had never seen before on my brother's face and he was not known to be afraid of anyone."

I meant: "Also, one day when we were visiting our sister, 6 weeks before the murder, I saw my beloved brother look back at his soon-to-be murderer with a look of such fear and terror on his face as I had never seen before on my brother's face and he was not known to be afraid of anyone."

And you wonder why I FIRMLY believe and stake my life on it and that of my beloved murdered brother James, that Cameron Todd Willingham was indeed guilty. His behavior was pretty incriminating and his statements too...all this apart from the physical evidence. He acted real guilty. A normal person would never have acted like he did.

Any ideas, comments?

Jean

halides1 said...

I have just re-read the Beyler report. There is not a single mention of the death penalty, nor is Mr. Willingham’s guilt or lack thereof discussed. Dr. Beyler concluded that a finding of arson cannot be sustained. Here and elsewhere, some supporters of the death penalty have argued that the Beyler report is biased, anti-death penalty propaganda. Others have pointed out that his report does not rule out arson. It is difficult to reconcile these two positions. How can both points of view be held at the same time?

Chris

SB said...

I have to agree, Chris. The report is scientific and not about guilt or punishment. But I thought you were one that refused to accept that it could have happened another way. I fact, I thought you were adamant that Willingham could have saved his older child.
Willingham may have been guilty as sin but the source of the fire has proved questionable. Reasonable doubt exists in the facts that got this man the death penalty.

halides1 said...

SB,

You might be thinking of the anonymous poster who was sparring with me. I have not previously offered an opinion on whether or not he set the fire. I think that Mr. Willingham's story that his eldest daughter (Amber, IIRC) woke him up is at least as problematic for those who believe the fire was arson as for those who believe the fire was accidental. If one believes it was accidental, one might assume that Mr. Willingham overlooked Amber in the hallway as he theorized. Or one might argue that she was still in the children’s bedroom when she called out to him. However, if Mr. Willingham set the fire deliberately, why would he make up the story that Amber woke him up when such a story raises the question of why he did not save her? Why would he not say that the smoke woke him up? The bottom line for me is that his account of his actions does not make him look heroic, but it does not make him look guilty of arson either.

Chris

SB said...

Agreed, Chris. It is unlikely that he set a fire and then decided to take a nap. Reasonable doubt has been established and Willingham's legacy may be changes in the standards for investigating arson. It is not something I am educated in but I see many shades of gray between the black and the white.

Anonymous said...

10/27/2009 04:57:00 PM: No, shame on her. She had to have lied.

10/28/2009 08:15:00 AM : No, give your respect back to Grits.