Texas panel requests to hear from more experts before deciding on disputed arson case

By Jeff Carlton, AP
Friday, September 17, 2010

Texas panel unwilling to end inquiry in arson case

DALLAS — Scientists reviewing a disputed arson finding that led to the execution of a Texas man are resisting efforts to clear fire investigators of professional misconduct.

The scientists on the Texas Forensic Science Commission say they would like to interview more fire experts about professional standards used by arson investigators in the early 1990s. The group met Friday in Dallas.

The commission is balking at approving a report that says investigators weren’t at fault in determining that arson was resposible for a 1991 house fire that killed three girls in Corsicana.

Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted of setting the fire and executed in 2004.

Commission Chairman John Bradley urged the panel to decide the investigators acted appropriately.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

DALLAS (AP) — A Texas science panel reviewing a report about a disputed arson finding that led to a man’s execution has begun its meeting by going behind closed doors.

The Texas Forensic Science Commission is reviewing a report that says fire investigators weren’t at fault in determining that a 1991 blaze at a home that killed three girls was deliberately set.

If commissioners approve the report, it could end their inquiry into the arson finding that led to the 2004 execution of the children’s father, Cameron Willingham.

The report contradicts one written last year by fire expert Craig Beyler, who concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence for an arson finding.

The commission meeting’s in Dallas began Friday with the chairman calling for a closed session.

will not be displayed