The Texas state fire marshal will allow the Innocence Project of Texas to review more than a decade of cases investigated by his office to identify possible wrongful convictions, reports the Associated Press. The fire marshal's office has already sent the project 24 case files from 2002 to 2004. “Why not?”, said Fire Marshal Chris Connealy. “We serve the public. And I want the public to have confidence in the criminal justice system.”
That confidence has been tested by challenges to several high-profile arson cases in Texas, notably Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for killing his three daughters in a 1991 house fire. Willingham maintained his innocence, and supporters say evidence suggests that he was wrongfully executed. Fire science experts have criticized the findings of fire investigators who concluded that the blaze was set intentionally, and a jailhouse informant who testified that Willingham confessed to killing his daughters has recanted. While efforts to press Willingham's case continue after his death, Connealy's office and criminal justice advocates have agreed to work together to weed out problems with fire investigations overall.