It’s no secret that the state of Texas is a fan of capital punishment, but did their quest for justice lead to the execution of a man innocent of the crimes for which he was charged? Cameron Todd Willingham was sentenced to death row in 1992 and then convicted in 2004. New evidence is just surfacing that suggests Willingham was an innocent man.
In 1992 he was charged with killing his three daughters by setting his home on fire with them inside. During the trials, prosecutors provided an arson analysis that they thought would no doubt prove his guilt. The analysis was later discredited.
Johnny Webb was an inmate with Willingham and became a key witness in the prosecution’s case. He claimed that Cameron Willingham admitted to him that he had in fact killed his three daughters. This confession was enough for a jury to decide that Willingham was deserving of the death penalty.
Now, ten years later, information is being uncovered as to the terms of that confession. It has been discovered that the prosecution actually offered Johnny Webb a lesser sentence if he were to testify that Willingham confessed guilt to him. If the defending attorney was aware of this bargain while the trial was ongoing, Cameron Willingham might still be alive.
John Jackson, the trial prosecutor, denies that any such bargain occurred regardless of the fact that the documents signed by both parties with the terms of the reduced sentence in exchange for testimony, have just been revealed. He claims that the papers found were misinterpreted, saying they were actually a means to get Webb out of jail because his life was being threatened by an Aryan Brotherhood group inside the prison. He couldn’t have his key witness in danger. The Willingham family, as well as Innocence Project group members, who discovered this new evidence, do not buy his story.