Fire Expert Witness & Texas Arson Investigation

Members of a Texas state panel reviewing the quality of a 1991 arson investigation that helped send a Corsicana man to his execution went back to the drawing board last week, refusing to approve a draft report that cleared the investigators of professional negligence. In a session of the Texas Forensic Science Commission that was marked by curt exchanges, commissioners voted unanimously to meet Nov. 19 and quiz experts who thus far have provided only written testimony.

The case stems from a Christmas season fire at the Corsicana home of Cameron Todd Willingham, in which his three young daughters died. Willingham, 36, was convicted of capital murder in the case and executed in February 2004. He claimed his innocence to the end. No experts have yet testified before the commission. An October 2009 appearance by Baltimore fire expert witness Craig Beyler, hired by the commission to review state and local fire probes, was canceled by Chairman John Bradley shortly after he was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry.

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