Back to the Science on Willingham



Dave Mann

Kudos to Dave Montgomery of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. His story today on the Cameron Todd Willingham case is one of the few recent media reports to focus on the most important aspect of this case: the forensic arson evidence.

I’ve been kvetching for a while that the political furor surrounding the Willingham case and the death penalty has obscured the forensics. (Here’s a link to help our non-Yiddish-speaking readers understand that last sentence.) My previous posts — which contain the aforementioned kvetching — can be found here and here.

Montgomery provides detailed descriptions of why the evidence against Willingham was so flawed.

None of this is new, of course. You can find nearly all the pertinent forensic details in this report and this Chicago Tribune story — both of which are five years old.

But if these facts are repeated again and again, perhaps the debate over Willingham might shift away from gubernatorial and death penalty politics, and toward the flawed forensic evidence that wrongly convicted dozens (maybe hundreds) of innocent people of arson.

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Dave Mann is a former editor of the Observer.