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THOUGHT PROVOKING JOURNALISM
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death by fire

related resources

 

Students should be aware that websites often present only one aspect of an issue. Encourage students to think about and question websites as they are reviewing them. Some guiding questions they can use are: What did you learn from this site? What didn’t you learn from this site? Who sponsors this site? What bias might the sponsor have? How current is the site?

 

BACKGROUND

NPR: “Improving the Science of Arson Detection”
This approximately five-minute interview with arson expert John Lentini discusses methods of detecting arson.

The New Yorker: “Trial by Fire”
This article examines the 1994 arson-murder case of Cameron Todd Willingham, the investigations and whether Texas might have executed an innocent man.

The Texas Tribune: Cameron Todd Willingham
This topic page provides background information and ongoing coverage of Willingham’s case.

 

DEATH PENALTY

Michigan State: The Death Penalty
A curriculum for high school students and teachers that outlines the stages of a capital case, provides state-by-state data, presents arguments for and against the death penalty and more.

University of Alaska: Death Penalty Organizations and Sites
This resource directory provides links to organizations and sites both for and against the death penalty.

 

PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS

FRONTLINE: Death by Fire
Read the 1992 Fire Investigator’s Report and Gerald Hurst’s 2004 Report. Review transcripts of police interviews with Willingham and his wife. Study the accounts of the fire given at trial by family, neighbors, firefighters and Willingham himself.

 

PURCHASING THE FILM

Death by Fire can be purchased from PBS Educational Media.

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