October 2, 2009: Governor Good Hair Strikes Again

Today the Texas Forensic Science Commission was set to take testimony in their investigation of the arson claim that sent Todd Willingham to the Death House. Willingham was executed for the murder of his three daughters who died in a fire. Willingham's last words just before he was put to death were in part "The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man - convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do. From God's dust I came and to dust I will return - so the earth shall become my throne."

Effective March 1, 2011 the firm of Essmyer, Tritico & Rainey, LLP has dissolved. Christopher L. Tritico and Ron S. Rainey, along with James Krell and their support staff, have created the new law firm of Tritico Rainey, PLLC, located at 1523 Yale Street ., 713-581-8203. Michael M. Essmyer and Frank B. Daniel, together with their support staff, will continue to office at 5111 Center Street, Houston, Texas, 713-869-1155 under the new firm name of The Essmyer Law Firm.

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Since his execution in 2004 much doubt has been cast on the evidence used to convict and execute him. The Innocence Project began an investigation to determine if Texas executed an innocent man. Their investigation reveled that the science used in the trial was suspect and not up to the correct standards. In other words the scientist took short cuts and used old, out dated and unreliable methods to draw their conclusions.

Armed with this information the Texas Forensic Science Commission opened an investigation into the matter. The commission does not have the authority or jurisdiction to declare the guilt or innocence of Todd Willingham, their determination is limited to the science used at trial. They were about midway through the process Tuesday when Gov. Perry abruptly replaced three of the members. Their terms had expired a few weeks ago. The governor replaced them just two days before they took public testimony from an expert whose findings are very critical of the science and scientist who testified at trail.

Why would the Governor make such a move at such a critical time? He said that it was normal their terms had expired and they were replaced. I have a hard time with this one. With important work going on the Governor could have either re-appointed these commissioners to another term or done nothing until they finished the investigation. Instead he replaced them and killed the hearing. If this was just business as usual and not the Governor again playing politics with the people of Texas then why did his office tell Aliece Watts, now former commissioner, that the Governor 'was going in a different direction." That different direction is to kill this embarrassing public acknowledgment that an innocent man was executed while he was presiding over the state. As the Houston Chronicle reported, just a few weeks ago the Governor publicly expressed confidence in Willingham's guilt and the arson investigation, he referred to the authors as "supposed expert." He went on to say that he had not "seen anything that would cause me to think that the decision" to execute Willingham "was not correct." If he has his way none of us will either.

I think we all agree that no Governor wants to have that hanging over his head especially during a tough primary fight; however, his action here is despicable. In the name of his re-election he is going to deprive the State of this important information. Why is this important you ask? If we did execute an innocent man our prosecuting authorities need to know how it happened and why it happened. We need to look at everything that happened so that we can take what ever steps we can to ensure that it does not happen again.

Governor Perry has again put his personal interest above that of the people of Texas. It is time for him to go.