Cameron "Todd" Willingham: An Innocent Man Executed?

One can hardly argue that every person that has ever been executed has in fact been guilty.  There have been too many instances over the years, most recently the case of twelve year old George Stinney who was executed in 1944 and posthumously exonerated seventy years later, of this.  This should not necessarily be a surprise to anyone for many reason.  For one we cannot ignore the racism and bias that went on, and some argue continues to go on, in our justice system.  In Stinney's case he was a obviously very young African American who was convicted of murdering two young white girls.  In cases such as his, as well as those like the case of Joe Arridy who was executed in 1939 and exonerated in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken actions to prevent these executions.  It is now illegal to execute someone who's crime was committed before the age of eighteen or anyone who is officially considered mentally challenged.  In the the Arridy case it was determined he had an IQ of 46 which was the equivalent of a six year old child.  However, it is not so easy to do with many others which time, technology and science has evolved and changed beliefs.  My husband recently asked me in reality what exonerating and previously executed person really does.  It was not that he did not have sympathy for the executed person or that he did not be a wrong had been made, but an exoneration is not going to bring the person back.  I replied to his question that, especially in old cases, such as those mentioned above, as well as many others, it really is more for the family and for legacy.  

As science evolves it becomes harder for us to imagine that innocent people are executed in modern times.  Recently the Supreme Court ruled that there is no evidence that in modern times an innocent person has been executed, at least in the United States.  Technically this is true based on the fact that no court has upheld any ruling that may have exonerated an executed person in modern times.  However, that does not mean that in reality the Supreme Court statement is true. 

We cannot deny the fact that there have been numerous people released from prison based on new evidence, often involving DNA, and that many of them were in fact sentenced to death for their crimes.  These are just the ones that have been caught and acted upon before an execution was performed.  I will be the first to admit that obviously everyone who claims innocence of a crime is not in fact innocent.  In fact, I personally believe that an overwhelming percentage of people charged with crimes are in fact guilty.  I also believe, however, that the justice system should be used fairly and honestly.  If someone is guilty, the evidence is there and there should never ever be tactics used in dishonest or shady ways to prove so.  Just as in the case I just recently blogged about, Levi Chavez, I believe him to be guilty of the murder of his wife, but I also believe the jury got it right when they acquitted him as in my opinion it was a case in which the prosecution, while having the ability and tools to prove guilt did not do so adequately.  Although I feel differently about the Casey Anthony case (in which I believe the prosecution did all that they could do and proved their case), many believe the same to be true in that case.  

In the 1990's there was often the joke that the state of Texas had an "express lane" to the gas chamber.  They were executing people at a much larger rate than any other state in the nation.  Since that time they actually gone back and reviewed many cases and actually lead the country in cases in which previously convicted people have been released from prison and exonerated.  This can lead us to believe that, at least in the state of Texas, there have likely been innocent people executed.  However, officially there is no proof of this, in the modern era that is.  It is usually the governor, who in the end, makes the final decision about an execution.  They have the ability to stay an execution, right up until the very last minute.  Often times, it seems that new "evidence" or information seems to fall onto the desk of the governor with just hours or minutes to spare for them to make a decision on the life of another.  It is not unreasonable to believe that oftentimes the governor does not have ample time to sort through the evidence to make an accurate and timely decision.  There should be, although we cannot know for sure, ample time for someone else close to the governor to have the time to go over the evidence and at least advise or inform the governor of the information that it contains, but again, we cannot know that this happens or even how often that it does occur.  What we do often see too often is a governor or prosecutor defend the position that they took even in the face of obvious mistakes.  More often is the case that these defenders based that on the "information" they knew at the time, even if it was false.  There have been many cases in which you hear them say "If I knew then...." Less often is the case in which despite obvious flawed information, a prosecutor or governor continue to defend the actions taken.  I can think of truly only two cases in which that has happened.  One involves the case known as The West Memphis 3, in which three teenage boys were convicted for the murders of three young boys.  One of those teenagers spent over a decade on death row.  When they were all released in 2011, although the prosecutor admitted that is was likely they would be granted new trials and would win acquittals, he also continued to protest they were guilty of the crime despite overwhelming evidence of the contrary.  Unlike the West Memphis 3 case in which they were released before one was executed, that is not the case when it comes to Cameron "Todd" Willingham.

Cameron "Todd" (hereafter referred to as Todd) Willingham was convicted in 1992 for arson murders of his three daughters, Amber(2), Karmon (1) and Kameron(1 and twin to Karmon) on December 23, 1991.  Before his execution on February 17, 2004, at the age of thirty-six, there was credible information that he had been convicted on flawed evidence.  This information landed on the desk of Governor Rick Perry within hours of his execution and yet his execution was not given a stay.  Many can argue that this happens often and I would not dispute that as referenced above.  And while I believe when there is clear and convincing evidence of guilty that the death penalty is a reasonable solution, I also believe when you are dealing with human lives, if there is ANY question of doubt it should be investigated more fully.  In my opinion, Todd should have been granted, at the very least a stay of execution so that the information given to the governor could be adequately and efficiently investigated.  Instead, the stay of execution was denied, and all subsequent information that has come to light over the years has been purposely overlooked or suppressed.  Governor Perry has been quoted as saying that in essence it did not matter because Willingham was "a monster" and a "wife beater."  Well Governor Perry, I am sorry, he was not convicted of being a "wife beater," nor was there credible evidence of such.  He was convicted of arson and the murder of his children.  It has often been said that the ghost of Todd Willingham haunts Governor Perry in his political career, although it seems Governor Perry has many other things haunting his career also.  Others believe that any political issues that he has had that did not directly involve the execution of Todd Willingham is simply karma for his suppression of evidence and his obvious tampering in allowing the truth to come forward.  

Of course Todd Willingham is not the first executed man to have people believe that he was innocent.  The case of Roger Coleman always comes to mind.  Roger Coleman was executed in Grundy Virginia in 1992 for the rape and murder of his sister-in-law.  Like many convicted felons he professed his innocence to the very end.  His supporters fought for DNA testing done after his execution.  I am sure that some of it had to do with their total belief in him and wanting his legacy to be changed, but it is also likely that it was also spearheaded by anti-death penalty people in order to prove that an innocent man was executed.  The prosecutor involved successfully fought the DNA testing for years but in 2006, with the testing complete, Coleman's supporters were devastated to find out that in fact, not only did not clear Coleman of his crime but it was clear and convincing that he in fact was guilty.  The fact that he was found guilty was one thing, but the fact that the prosecutor fought against that testing for years is another.  I wonder if in fact the DNA testing was not finally done because of the Willingham case.  There was already a lot of information out that cast doubts on Willingham's crime but there was no DNA to test to prove anything.  His case came down to another form of science, wholly based on opinions.  Coleman's case as there was a rape involved was different.  The fact that Coleman was in fact guilty hurt anti-death penalty supporters greatly yet was a great boost for death penalty supporters as well as the government in showing that an error had not taken place.  

In 2003 a movie was released called "The Life of David Gale" starring Kevin Spacey.  It was about a group of anti-death penalty supporters, one of which was suffering from a terminal disease, who staged a death to purposely implicate another in the group.  They manipulated evidence, and yet held on to clear and convincing evidence that the victim had killed herself.  The purpose was to allow the person convicted of the crime to die by lethal injection, simply to prove the flaws in the death penalty.  And while this was a show of fiction, it is the belief of many that if it can be proven that an innocent man, at least in the modern era, has been executed that we have a duty as a country to abolish the death penalty.  It appears that it seems more of a "scandal" per se to admit to a flawed system that allows an innocent person to die than to simply admit that it could, and sometimes happens.  In my opinion that is the only thing that has prevented the State of Texas, pro-death penalty supporters and the community at large to admit this is in fact what happened in the case of Todd Willingham.

Like many people who are convicted of crimes, Todd Willingham professed his innocence from the very beginning.  Unlike many, his story stayed consistent, minus one small part, for over a decade.  His wife, Stacey, had left early in the morning to do some Christmas shopping.  Todd contended that he woke up to the sounds of his daughter crying and noticed smoke and fire in the home.  He said he went to the bedroom where is children were and attempted to rescue them but could not and that when he realized this he got out of the home and yelled for help.  The only part of his story that he ever changed was that he never made in all the way into the room with the children.  He still proclaimed that he went to the room but that he was unable to enter due to flames.  He claimed later, when admitting he did not go all the way into the room, that he had only said he had because he wanted to appear that he was brave in attempting to rescue them and the fact that he could not get into the room made him feel like a coward.  Prosecutors claimed at the time that Todd suffered no injuries consistent with his story, but that was later refuted, based on the fact that he did in fact have injuries just ones consistent with him leaving before the fire "flashed over" when it appears that basically everything suddenly ignites. Suspicion was cast fairly early on Todd, which is not uncommon, especially in situations in which children perish in a fire yet an adult survives.  Witnesses proclaimed that Todd did not attempt to go back into the home to rescue his children, however, authorities actually refuted this saying that they had to hold him back from entering the home.  Witnesses also put a much into the fact that Todd had moved his car back in the driveway while the house was burning and before firefighters arrived.  Todd had a reasonable explanation for this.  He stated he was afraid that the flames would reach the car and the fuel tank and cause a larger and more dangerous fire.  Other witnesses testified to what they found as being odd behavior in their opinion regarding a fund that was being established.  Some say that Todd seemed more upset over losing a dart board in the fire and indicated as if he needed, or wanted that replaced more than money.

On January 8, 1992 Todd was charged with the arson murders of his three children.  His trial was in August of 1992.  Prior to trial prosecutors offered Todd a life sentence in a plea offer.  He refused stating that he was not going to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit.  His trial lasted three days when he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to death.

There were two main points of evidence in the trial that is believed to convict him.  First was the evidence presented by the chief investigators and fire "experts" stating that this was in fact an arson fire in which an accelerant  was used. They used over twenty points to demonstrate this and attempt to inform the jury.  The other main point that was used as evidence against Todd was the testimony of a fellow inmate by the name of Johnny Webb who stated that Todd had confessed to him.

First I am going to start with Webb simply because his role in the trial is less common than the refuting of science evidence.  Quite often you hear of fellow inmates in a jail testifying at trials that the defendant confessed to them.  I have often heard prosecutors state, and truthfully, that they cannot pick their witnesses, especially of the criminal type but have to go with the evidence given to them.  The job of a jury is to decide what evidence that is presented to them to believe and which evidence to discount.  This happens in every trial because if the prosecution and defense agreed on everything there would be no need for a trial.  This job becomes more difficult for the jury when the witness testifying has their own issues with the law or have been known to be untruthful in the past.  Any attorney worth their salt is sure to ask questions on cross examination about any promises that were made to them, especially when they are testifying for the prosecution.  That was no different in this case.  Willingham's attorney did question Webb about any deals made with the prosecution or if any promises for leniency on his own legal issues were made.  Webb denied that he had been promised anything from the prosecutor repeatedly and that he was only testifying because he was doing what he felt was right.  There was no proof to be had otherwise, at least at the time.  At trial Webb told the jury that Todd had told him that he had in fact started the fire in order to cover up either the injury or the death (he could not recall) of one of the girls that had been inflicted by his wife Stacey.  The problem with this testimony was the fact that none of the children had injuries consistent with anything that did not involve the fire.  The oldest daughter, Amber, had had a strange mark on her forehead and one of her hands, but again, they were consistent with the fire.  According to Webb, Todd had also confessed that he had burned Amber extra in those two place to make it appear that the fire had been started from her playing with fire.  He later, after the trial, wrote a written retraction to his testimony, but then later retracted his retraction.  In 2014 he once again retracted his testimony saying that he was in fact offered a deal by Prosecutor Jackson.  By this time The Innocence Project had gotten involved and had discovered written notes in Webb's file that did in fact corroborate Webb's story about a deal. They found that when he had testified he had already been convicted of and sentenced for aggravated robbery.  It was proven later that through Prosecutor Jackson that was eventually changed to 2nd degree robbery, his time was cut, and what time he did spend was not the typical hard time he would have served.  He was also being supported while in prison by a local rich, rancher by the name of Charles Pearce who was known to support local convicts in helping them while they were in jail as well as when they got out with things such as housing, jobs and schooling.  Although Jackson continues to deny a relationship with Pearce members of Project Innocence claim to have proof saying that Jackson and Pearce were good friends and that it was through this connection that Webb got benefits. Jackson went on to become a judge, retiring in 2012.

While of course, as in many cases there was a lot of circumstantial evidence the other main thing against Todd was the evidence of arson. The original investigators pointed to twenty different things that indicated the proof that an accelerant was used in the fire and was purposely set.  In reality only one spot in the home was actually tested for an accelerant while the other points were determined simply by marks that the fire had left. The investigators based their determinations on what they considered to be "pour patterns," which were determined to appears as discolorations and deep burns.  Other information that investigators testified to pointing to arson included where they believed the points of origin were, the fact that temperatures appeared higher at the floor than the ceiling, the presence of "crazed glass," the fact that the floor burned under the children's bed, and in their mind the biggest evidence of kerosene at the entrance of the front door.  There was in fact "mineral spirits" in the door frame.  This was the only place that they actually tested and yes it did in fact come back with a positive result.  It was found that the chemical found was the ingredients found in charcoal lighter fluid. It was also known and discovered through pictures of the home previous to the fire, that a grill and a bottle of lighter fluid sat on the porch of the home.  It was pointed out at trial, and later strongly pointed out that it would be reasonable to believe that the heat from the fire would have likely began to melt the bottle and that when the firefighters positioned their water hose to take out the fire they knocked that bottle off to the point that it would have landed in the doorway. This is also where the "crazed glass" was found.  This occurs when glass is heated to the point of melting and then rapidly cooled.  At some point the heat portion of this was thought to be a result of an accelerant but is widely thought of now as an "old wives tale" and can be reasonably assumed that once again the power as well as the temperature of the cold water coming from the firefighter hoses caused the rapid cooling of the glass. Over the years, but more importantly starting in late 2003, it was determined that every point that was made pointing to arson by the original investigators were flawed.  It was said that several months prior to the trial in 1992, many of the points the investigators made had been published by the National Fire Protection Association.  Some had even been published and "debunked" as early as 1969... nearly 25 years before.  Giving the original investigators reason of doubt one can say that the new guidelines issued just months prior to the trial may not have been discovered by them as of yet, but surely by 2004 they would known.   In 2004, Gerald Hurst, who held a Ph.D in chemistry issued a review of the evidence.  This is when the first severe doubts were raised and put on paper.  According to Hurst, there had been significant tests done over the years pertaining to fires and it was discovered that many of the same marks that had been associated with accelerant use was found in controlled fires where an accelerant was not used, including many of the same marks the original fire investigators had testified at Todd's trial about pointing to arson.  Four days prior to his execution, Todd's lawyers asked for a thirty day stay of execution in order to severely look over and investigate the information in Hurst's report. That same report did not land on the desk of Governor Rick Perry until a few short hours prior to the the scheduled execution.  Obviously a stay of execution was not granted.  One would reasonably believe that the report had been seen by others by this time, but nothing was done by anyone. Since that time nearly every single top fire investigator in the country has looked over this case and have all determined that every single one of the twenty points that the original investigator pointed to as evidence of arson are flawed.  Hurst argued in his report that the fire could have been caused by a space heater, but that it was more likely bad wiring in the house that caused the fire.

Even today Prosecutor Jackson admits that the fire forensics were wrong and in another also states that Johnny Webb is unreliable,  but in the same breath continues to argue that Cameron Todd Willingham murdered his children and that the state was justified in his execution. Ok, so with the arson evidence completely and fully debunked, and their first, and by their accounts number one witness against him, deemed unreliable what did they have? First I want to point out that Jackson stated in 2014 that Todd had taken a polygraph with "obvious results." From all that I researched Todd rejected the polygraph, either himself or through a lawyer and Jackson never elaborated on the "obvious results." Of course since polygraph examinations are not allowed in court if there was one technically would not matter but from my understanding this would be a false statement from Jackson.  It was not the first.   So let's see just what "evidence" was left after all of this....

1) As stated above, witnesses at the scene claim that Todd did not try to enter the house once he got out and seemed overly concerned in moving his car.  On scene officers stated that he did in fact attempt to go back into the home and had to be held back by officers and Todd himself explained why he moved his vehicle, he was worried the fire would reach it and the gas tank and would cause an explosion and more danger.

2) Todd's wife, Stacey, is kind of an enigma.  She immediately defended her husband. She of course was interviewed and stated that not only had she and Todd not argued in the ensuing hours but that he loved his children and was never abusive to them.  Little credence was given to the part of Webb's story that Todd told him he had murdered them to cover up injuries that Stacey inflicted because during autopsy there were no injuries that were not consistent with the fire and no evidence that she abused them.  However, his statement is interesting. As I said above it was proven that Webb was offered a deal and since he testified for the prosecution one has to wonder how he came up with that story as presumably he was told what to say, so did the prosecutors tell him to say that?  And if so, why? Were they suspicious of Stacey?  There was some testimony indicating that Todd had been abusive to Stacey.  In fact, at trial prosecutors claimed that this was Todd's third attempt to kill his children, as the first two were during Stacey's pregnancies in which he had kicked her in the stomach.  No police reports collaborated this and I was unclear if that came from Stacey or from someone else.  However, regardless this seems to be the leverage that Governor Rick Perry uses when he is questioned about the execution of an innocent man when he claims that Todd was "a monster" and "wife beater."  Even still, Stacey proclaimed that he was a loving father.  She visited him frequently while he was in prison.  Her last visit was a few weeks prior to his execution.  She continued to support him and his innocence before and after his execution.  In 2009 her brother reported to the media that Stacey told him that Todd had confessed to her at her last visit with him.  Stacey steadfastly denied this for more than a year.  Then suddenly in 2010 she changes her story.  She then says that the night before she and Todd had a fight and that there were threats of divorce made.  She was quoted as saying "Todd murdered Amber, Karmon and Kameron.  He burnt them. He admitted he burnt them to me, and he was convicted for his crime.  This is the closest to justice that my daughters will ever get."  Even the prosecutor and investigators state they do not believe this statement from her.  But keep in mind, whether you believe her in 2010 or not, in 1992 at trial, as well as well past his execution in 2004, Stacey proclaimed his innocence.  So, that was not evidence against him.

3) Testifying for the prosecution was psychiatrist James Grigson.  He testified that he diagnosed Todd as a "sociopath." Some of the things that he used to determine this was based on a tattoo of a skull and serpent that Todd had, as well as posters he had displayed on his walls of the bands, Iron Maiden and Led Zeppelin.  A sociopath has few morals or feelings of sympathy of others.  They have a total disregard for other people and their feelings, yet they themselves display behaviors of impulsiveness and aggression.  Others, including a judge and Todd's former probation officer, as well as friends and family did not see this as a valid diagnosis.  However, of course the prosecutor "ran with it" and pointed it out in the penalty phase.  Dr. Grigson was later expelled by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians and forced to give up his license.  He was accused of "unethical conduct" that included allegations of diagnosing patients without actually examining them, as well as in essence boosting himself when testifying in court by stating that he could "predict with 100% certainty if one would engage in future acts of violence."  Apparently these charges were not a direct result of the Willingham trial but should be looked at in hindsight.  Obviously those who testified as disagreeing with his diagnosis of Todd would hold less weight than Grigson as people would presume that Grigson was qualified as an "expert" and had the training to determine the diagnosis.  So his testimony is left in question.  

4) The remaining 'evidence' the prosecution had was solely based on theory, more or less.  It is the job of the prosecution to convince a jury the defendant committed the crime they are accused of. Of course the prosecutor in this case used the information from Johnny Webb, the arson investigators and Dr. Grigson, as well as supposed behavior testified to of witnesses at the scene.  In the process all prosecutors, while not required to show the jury a motive almost always attempt to come up with one.  The motive stated in statements by Prosecutor Jackson was basically that Todd was "eliminating unwanted children."  This is where he brings up the supposed issues of Todd kicking Stacey both times when she was pregnant.  After all my research I had to go back and determine if there was any life insurance on the children. This is always a common motive given by prosecutors so the fact that I never heard anything about it was interesting.  I had remembered that the community had started a fund to help with the funerals and that a witness claimed that Todd had been more concerned about a dart board and stated he said they did not need money.  Yet, still I had not seen anything about that or that it was used as a motive at trial.  What I did find was that like many young couples, Todd and Stacey were struggling financially and at the time Todd was unemployed.  There was insurance on the children that amounted to about $15,000 but, the policy had been paid for by a family member and neither Todd or Stacey were the beneficiary of the policies hence why there had been no mention of them as a motive. 

So, that was all the "evidence" they had in totality.  And yet before his execution nearly everything that had been pointed to arson was not valid, leaving really only Webb's testimony that he had already tried to recount once as well as the fact that his testimony did not fit the scene. Still, he was not given even a 30 day stay of execution to be certain and his execution took place on February 17, 2004.  He was 36 years old.

There story does not end there however.  It was not long before the story got out to the media and public that there was a high likelihood that an innocent man was executed.  This of course prompted anti-death penalty groups to start making waves.  This started to haunt the career of Governor Perry, the state of Texas and all of those involved in the case.  In 2009 the Texas Forensic Science Commission received a report by Dr. Craig Beyler  who had received a payment of $30,000 to review the Willingham case. Beyler is considered to be a leading fire expert.  He concluded that initial investigators ignored the manuals and relied on "folklore" and "myths" in this case in determining that it was a case of arson.  Two days before his report was to be presented to the commission officially Governor Perry replaced three of the committee members, one of which being the leader, who subsequently cancelled the meeting with Beyler.  He was criticized for this decision and it was alleged that he was preventing the report from being made officially to "save face" per se. He later indicated that he did not believe that the commission had the right to even look at the case to begin with. He could not ignore it however since the information had gotten out, so  when questioned about this Governor Perry said "supposed (in fact using "finger quotes" with the word) experts were wrong" and he was not going to listen to anti-death penalty "propaganda." An aide of Perry was later quoted as saying the $30,000 paid to Beyler was "wasted tax money."  

In 2010 the Innocence Project asked to have a review done looking into "Official Oppression." Basically this means that they were wanting to eventually show that officials purposely and knowingly had not only convicted Todd on flawed or false information but continued to impede on rights and justice.  Judge Baird was initially asked to recluse himself as he had once Todd conviction.  However, in the end Baird issued a ruling exonerating Todd Willingham.  It was appealed and reversed by a higher court.  Within his ruling Baird had gone through every single point the original arson investigators had used and showed credible evidence that they were flawed.  It was also pointed out that ten months after Todd's execution that an inmate by the name of Ernest Willis was exonerated over the same discredited techniques pointing to arson as were used in Todd's case.  He too had been on death row and had personally known Todd.  Yet, still again officials ignore yet this report and continue to claim that he was guilty of his crime and that it was proven. It is possible that it is likely that Baird was overturned, as well as ignored because it appears that over the years Baird began having questions about convictions.  In 2009 Baird determined that Timothy Cole, a man convicted of rape in the 1980's was not guilty based on DNA evidence that cleared him.  Cole had served fourteen years in prison by 1999 when he died of an asthma attack while still in prison.  He became the first person in Texas to be exonerated posthumously.  In the Cole case one could likely argue that while he died within the prison system, and maybe as a result of lack of care, but unlike the Willingham case the state was not directly involved in his death. In 2014 the Innocence Project filed with the court asking that there be a review of Prosecutor Jackson and that he be sanctioned for this case on charges of tampering with evidence and obstructing justice for his role not just in the issue with Johnny Webb but his conduct before and since the execution.  I have found nothing to indicate if this has been addressed as of now.  

So while it is unlikely, especially as long as Governor Perry and others involved in the case are still alive and/or in office, that Cameron Todd Willingham's family will ever see the full pardon in an official manner,  it is likely true that he is first person in modern history who has been executed for a crime he did not commit.  What does this say about our justice system and specifically about the death penalty?  I think it is very difficult to say otherwise.  At very least few can argue that he was not given due justice when reliable and credible questions were being raised prior to his execution and yet they were ignored.  Since that time they continue to be ignored from an official basis and are often mocked.  Take the case of Craig Beyler... someone, at some time obviously believe the commission had the right to look into the case and approved the fees and yet he was barred from officially releasing his report and was criticized by the governor as being an expert and later saying the commission did not have the authority to look into the case.  At what point do we say to hell with who does or does not have authority and look at the facts?  At what point do people swallow their pride and admit that obviously a mistake was made? It is likely this all revolves around money and over confidence has played a huge role.  Again, in the case of Beyler, I gander to guess that someone, somewhere thought this would end up like the Roger Coleman case and an investigation would prove guilt, and yet then when the opposite was determined suddenly the people involved were not authorized and the expert involved was being discredited.  Then of course once again you look at the case of the West Memphis 3.  They were forced to sign papers in their deal saying they would not seek compensation for the 18 years they spent in prison.  This was instrumental in allowing their freedom and allowing the state to not lose money.  In this case Willingham is not alive to make such a deal and I am uncertain if they have the authority to make that deal with anyone other than him.  I saw nothing that indicated that his family was seeking anything more than the clearing of his name. I would guess money is not an issue with them, but I could be wrong, and in the same respect after all the lies and cover ups in this case why should the state and those involved get off scott free for their actions and not pay, monetary and otherwise?

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