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Where’s Willingham?

The Texas Forensic Science Commission will meet on January 29. You will be shocked to hear that Cameron Todd Willingham is not on their agenda.

Instead, the meeting will focus on formalizing procedures explaining how the group will conduct business, John Bradley, the commission’s newly appointed chairman, said Thursday.

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The Willingham case is not on the agenda for the upcoming meeting. Nor is Craig Beyler, the renowned fire expert who wrote the report in question.

Bradley said that he isn’t ignoring Willingham — who was executed for the 1991 deaths of his three daughters in a house fire outside Corsicana — and that the board’s investigation of the case could conclude this summer . He said he will assign pending cases, including Willingham’s, to the nine-member body, which includes a defense attorney and several medical examiners.

He said his top priority is bringing structure to the commission, which he said doesn’t have policies in place that answer “simple questions, like ‘What is the standard for accepting or rejecting a complaint?'”

But the shift in emphasis from Willingham to procedural matters confirms the fears of those supporting the Willingham inquiry. Barry Scheck, co-director of the Innocence Project, a New York group that focuses on overturning wrongful convictions, called it “an agenda that deflects attention from what everybody wants answered.”

And Sam Bassett, the panel’s deposed chairman, said it appears the group’s new direction “is, in my view, unnecessarily delaying the investigations we had going.”

None of this should come as a surprise, of course. Bradley has been very clear about the fact that he has no real interest in pursuing the Willingham investigation. Very simply, he will not do anything that might be damaging to his patron, Rick Perry. Until he takes concrete action towards bringing this case to a real conclusion, with recommendations for action going forward, I see no reason to believe anything he says about it. The Contrarian and the Texas Moratorium Network have more.

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