Stephen Saloom: Texas science panel chairman John Bradley is biased

Photograph AdS

Photograph AdS

Stephen Saloom, the policy director of the New York-based Innocence Project, said prosecutor John Bradley shows “a critically important lack of objectivity” in his approach to the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. Bradley has publicly called Willingham a “guilty monster.”

Bradley is the chairman of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, which is investigating whether fire investigators committed professional misconduct in determining arson was the cause of the 1991 house fire. Willingham was convicted of capital murder in 1992 and executed in 2004.

At least nine fire experts have since said the fire was an accident, not arson.

Bradley’s comment “raises questions about the propriety of his leading the Commission’s work through this investigation, and perhaps its work as a whole,” Saloom said. He urged the other commissioners, all but one of whom are scientists, not lawyers, to take “appropriate action.”

On Thursday, two fire experts testified at a special court of inquiry hearing in Austin. The judge overseeing that hearing has the power to declare Willingham innocent. An Austin appeals court, however, granted an emergency stay that will prevent the judge from ruling for at least one week and could end the proceeding altogether.

If the judge clears Willingham, it would mark the first time an official in the nation’s most active death penalty state has formally declared that someone was wrongfully executed. More here.