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‘Death by Fire’: Was Cameron Todd Willingham Wrongfully Executed?

Just a little over a year ago my jaw dropped while reading David Grann’s New Yorker account of the Cameron Todd Willingham case. The central character is a man who beats his wife, parties too much, listens to heavy metal and also loses his three little children in a house fire on Dec. 23, 1991. The eyes of Corsicana, Texas, sharply turn against Willingham when authorities rule that the fire was arson. Willingham was executed in 2004, stirring up controversy over whether the science was accurate and whether Texas executed an innocent man.

Independent producer Jessie Deeter is behind the Frontline documentary that airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday on most PBS stations. We spoke with her recently:

For more background and continuing coverage on the case, the Texas Tribune also has an excellent topic page on the case. Dave Mann of the Texas Observer has also been covering this story for quite some time and wrote about what seemed like an uprising of medical examiners last month, which could have profound effects not just for this case, not just for arson-related death penalty cases, but the science underlying so many other arson convictions.

Video edited by Lauren Knapp. Follow Hari on Twitter.

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