Two Decades After Fatal Fire, TX Panel Urges Arson Probe Reform


A Texas commission reviewing the arson investigation that led to the execution of Cameron Todd Willingham has made far-reaching recommendations to improve and modernize fire investigations, reports the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The report was praised by the Willingham family and the Innocence Project, which initiated the review.

The nine-member Texas Forensic Science Commission issued findings that were 2 1/2 years in the making. Willingham’s three daughters died in a fire at their home in 1991. Willingham was convicted of setting the fire, and was executed in 2004. He repeatedly maintained his innocence. The report’s 16 recommendations could prod state and local fire investigators to adhere to modern investigative standards that have evolved over the past two decades. One key recommendation could lead to a re-examination of old cases using newer forensic techniques. Other recommendations call for improved training and education, peer reviews, increased reliance on forensic laboratories, uniform ethics standards and adequate funding for training.

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