A draft report issued today by the Texas Forensic Science Commission on the evidence used to convict and execute Cameron Todd Willingham focuses on training and education initiatives for fire investigators and makes several suggestions for continued improvement for investigations.
The report, as expected, takes pains to say that it does not comment on Willingham’s guilt or innocence. It does not reach conclusions about the performance of arson investigators. It acknowledges that fire science has improved since the 1991 fire that killed Willingham’s three young daughters and lays out some of the modern scientific understanding of fire behavior on questionable findings in the Willingham investigation.
The commission will discuss the draft report at its two-day meeting in Austin, which begins today at 1 p.m. and continues tomorrow morning.
Commission members have insisted that their investigation would focus on the science and say nothing about the guilt or innocence of Willingham.
The report is linked above; I have not had a chance to wade through it yet. I am disappointed that it did not draw any conclusions about the performance of the arson investigators from that fire, though I suppose one couldn’t do that without also addressing the innocence question. If the end result of all this is that the state Fire Marshall continues to defend that investigation with impunity, then this all really was a waste of time, and John Bradley can walk away with a clean victory for his lord and master Rick Perry. We can never improve if we’re not willing to admit when we make a mistake. We’ll see how it goes when the Commission takes this up. The Trib has more.