A few weeks back, I asked whether Texas Governor Rick Perry was seeking to obstruct an inquiry into whether Texas executed an innocent man. There is reason to question the forensic evidence upon which the conviction and subsequent execution of Cameron Todd Willingham was based, and Gov. Perry replaced members of the state’s Forensic Science Commission when it was preparing to investigate the case. If the Commission were to find Willingham was convicted on faulty evidence, it would be embarrassing to Gov. Perry, as he considered and denied Willingham’s request for a reprieve.
An editorial from yesterday’s Dallas Morning News reports on some additional developments.
When the governor abruptly unseated three commission members, including the chairman, he derailed a hearing about a flawed arson investigation that led to an execution. Little more than a week later, the governor has replaced a fourth member of the forensic science panel.
Perry has insisted that this was standard operating procedure, all part of the regular cycle of appointments. But troubling comments from the deposed chairman suggest that the governor’s efforts to change the course of this inquiry began months ago. . . .
Samuel Bassett, who was replaced as chairman two weeks ago, said the governor’s aides pressured him as they expressed displeasure with the investigation, questioned the cost of the inquiry and even hinted that the commission’s funding could be in jeopardy.
Although Perry has dismissed suggestions that he’s meddling, the governor’s fingerprints are all over the forensic science panel’s inquiry.
[UPDATE: Post edited to fix an error.]