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Innocent man executed in Texas?

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Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby aoxo1 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:23 pm

Recent article in The New Yorker on the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, convicted of arson and murdering his children in Texas and sentenced to death.
http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009 ... table=true

Now it looks like, just as some panel was about to look into this, Gov. Perry abruptly replaced of its members.
http://www.star-telegram.com/politics/s ... 47991.html

Regardless of your feelings on the death penalty, the idea that an innocent man may have been executed and no one in power seems much interested in finding out (and may, MAY, be interested in covering it up) is beyond disturbing.

Personally, I am against it mainly for the following two reasons
1) The chance that innocents are being executed. There have been a very large number of people on death row who have had their cases overturned thanks to the Innocence Project in recent years.
2) The cost to the state compared to just locking a murderer up indefinitely.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby Ziner » Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:26 pm

aoxo1 wrote:Personally, I am against it mainly for the following two reasons
1) The chance that innocents are being executed. There have been a very large number of people on death row who have had their cases overturned thanks to the Innocence Project in recent years.
2) The cost to the state compared to just locking a murderer up indefinitely.


Completely agree with both, that is why I am against it as well. There are no benefits, other than revenge. However I think it would be worse to be locked up in jail with no chance of release than it would be to be killed. That said, I would also prefer a prison system where reading is the only entertainment.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby Stu » Fri Oct 02, 2009 5:51 pm

aoxo1 wrote:Personally, I am against it mainly for the following two reasons
1) The chance that innocents are being executed. There have been a very large number of people on death row who have had their cases overturned thanks to the Innocence Project in recent years.
2) The cost to the state compared to just locking a murderer up indefinitely.


Exactly, theres no benefit to killing people off. I mean, in the big scheme of things, the number of people on death row is minimal toward the entire number in jail. Their cost is not significant enough to justify their death.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby Orenthal » Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:26 pm

Step 1... Don't resist death. Behave yourself and do what the police say... Oh wrong thread... Kill everyone!
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby jfiling » Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:43 pm

Dammit that article hit me hard. At first, I was thinking there is no way this guy didn't do it, and then the systematic debunking of the prosecution's case, and particularly the "experts" for the prosecution, just overwhelmed me.

If I believed in God, I'd thank him for the efforts of people who look at cases of people on death row to see if there is any way they might have been innocent. The Innocence Project in particular is one of my favorite non-profits in the world and I hope they continue their work forever.

And, I think an innocent man was executed. If he can be exonerated posthumously, maybe we can finally get rid of the barbaric system of capital punishment.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby dem425 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:52 pm

I have always been in favor of the death penalty.

When the great state of Ohio failed in executing Romell Broom a few weeks ago, I had to stop and re-evaluate my position on the death penalty. Was it cruel and inhuman to keep this guy on the ropes because our state was inept at doing an execution? Maybe he had suffered enough.

Then I read this:


[i]EAST CLEVELAND, Ohio—It’s been 25 years, and the painful memories linger of the day that Bessye Middleton’s 14-year-old daughter was raped and stabbed to death.

The girl, Tryna Middleton, was abducted at knifepoint on Sept. 21, 1984, while she was walking home from a Friday night football game with two friends.

The man convicted of her murder, Romell Broom, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday.

“It’s been 25 years and the pain has gotten a little bit better but there is not a single day that I don’t get up and think about her during some point in the day,“ Bessye Middleton, 65, said.

Tryna’s father, David Middleton, a retired auto worker, won’t drive down the street where his daughter was abducted and for years became nauseous returning to a home filled with memories. Bessye Middleton will only drive down the street where her daughter was abducted when she heads to church on Sundays.

On the day of the murder, Broom watched the girls from a slow-moving car. They sensed something wasn’t right and turned up a different street to get home, Bessye Middleton said.

But Broom, who was familiar with the neighborhood, apparently guessed their detour and was waiting for them. He raped Tryna Middleton and stabbed her seven times, according to the attorney general’s office.

Broom’s preying on girls eventually caught up with him.

Three months later, Broom forced an 11-year-old girl into his car but the victim’s mother thwarted his escape by running after the car, which was stuck on ice, and yelling to her daughter to jump out.

“The daughter finally jumped out, just about the same time he got some traction on the vehicle and he actually ran over her leg,“ said Gary Belluomini, an FBI agent who worked in a white-collar crime unit where Bessye Middleton was a clerk.

Two eyewitnesses to the attempted abduction collaborated, one getting the numbers on the getaway car’s license plate and the other the letters. That led to Broom’s arrest.

He was identified by the girl, her mother and by two eyewitnesses and, after police recognized the similarities with the cases, by Tryna’s girlfriends.

The back-to-back identifications helped crack the case, according to retired Cleveland police Detective Edward “Buddy” Kovacic.

“You connect the dots and all of a sudden the dots start looking like a square or a triangle. All of a sudden they connect and that’s what happened,“ he said.

Broom, 53, has a criminal record dating to when he was 13, including robbery, car theft and the 1975 rape of a his niece’s 12-year-old baby sitter. He served 8½ years of a seven- to 25-year rape sentence and was paroled four months before Tryna was killed.

Broom turned down media interview requests as his execution date approached, according to the state prison system. The state Parole Board has recommended that Gov. Ted Strickland deny clemency.

The Ohio Supreme Court on Friday rejected his request to present evidence he says could have changed the outcome of his trial.

Broom has claimed that he was targeted because of his earlier rape conviction and has complained that his attorneys didn’t get all the information collected by police.

Prosecutors say a federal judge has already ruled that the evidence would not have made a difference at trial.

The defense at his 1985 trial said Broom, whose sister was a stabbing murder victim, dropped out of school in 10th grade and was shaped by a broken family in which he saw his mother beaten by his father. Broom often had to care for his siblings.

Broom’s mother pleaded with the trail court to spare his life.

“He didn’t kill your baby. He didn’t kill that baby. I swear to God, he didn’t kill your baby,“ his mother, Ella Mae Broom, said after she left the witness stand.

Bessye Middleton thinks the time has come.

“It’s not that you want somebody’s life to be taken from them but he’s trying to beat the system,“ she said in an even tone. “We had to suffer. He’s had 25 years longer than her.“
[/i]

Now I hope that Satan has reserved the jacuzzi suite in hell for this scumbag.

YET, I do believe that is in the interest of society to use EVERY scientific (DNA,etc) method available in processing real or trace evidence in capital crimes. No stone should be left unturned because I do think there are innocent people on the Mile. I don't think it is a significant number but with the resources available to modern forencics, one innocent person is too many.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby aoxo1 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 6:52 pm

jfiling wrote:Dammit that article hit me hard. At first, I was thinking there is no way this guy didn't do it, and then the systematic debunking of the prosecution's case, and particularly the "experts" for the prosecution, just overwhelmed me.

Seriously. And you had to know going in, just like I did, that the second half was going to be about how he was innocent. I mean, it's not like the title of the article hid it.
jfiling wrote:And, I think an innocent man was executed. If he can be exonerated posthumously, maybe we can finally get rid of the barbaric system of capital punishment.

It certainly seems that way. There probably are quite a large number of innocent people executed, just as there is not likely an insignificant number innocently imprisoned, that don't even get the benefit of having a case that gets looked at or can even be shown to be fraudulent.

If something as high profile as a triple child homicide can be conducted in such a manner, and the defendant represented in this manner (not blaming his lawyers, as they are likely very overworked and have little budget), it makes you wonder about what happens to people innocently accused of more minor crimes.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby jfiling » Fri Oct 02, 2009 7:36 pm

dem425,

Have you followed all the developments in that case? I only ask because the botched execution seems like it could fall under the "cruel and unusual punishment" standards of the Constitution. Obviously the answer is a more sure form of execution for those deserving, but having a guy sit for two hours while people stick needles into bones and muscles is disturbing.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby dem425 » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:26 pm

jfiling:

My wife is an RN and she told me that it is unconscionable that a medical staff could do what happened. Apparently, leading up to an execution there is type of physical which is performed ESPECIALLY to troubleshoot any problems like this.

I had read where attorneys representing him were filing motion after to motion claiming the "cruel and inhuman" punishment angle. As I said in my earlier posting, for a brief moment I thought a reprieve might be in order till I read more about the rape/murder he committed.

But I am adamant that EVERY friggin' forensic resource we have available MUST be utilized in capital crimes. If any of that bullshit we see on all the crime and CSI dramas is ture, then we must use it to insure the guilt (or innocence) of someone accused of a crime that is punishable by death.

I am against botched lethal injections, hanging and electric chair executions. The purpose of the execution is to be Swift, Severe, and Certain, not to torture. Utah did it right with Gary Gilmore. No suffering, just a carrying out of the sentence. Although, there has been speculation that Gilmore was shot 5 times as opposed to the 1-live round and four blanks as designated by the state.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby leadpipe » Fri Oct 02, 2009 8:50 pm

I highly, highly recommend the book, "Death and Justice" by Mark Fuhrman.

Yes, that Mark Furhman.

Once a staunch supporter of the death penalty, until he investigated some goings on in Oklahoma and it changed his mind.

Things like certain detectives telling the head of the Oklahoma forensic lab, "we think this is the guy." Wink, Wink, and they convict on shady things like hair samples etc.

Very interesting, and by the way, anything Fuhrman has written is excellent if you are a true crime type. Murder in Greenwich had a hand in getting the Moxley case reopened, his book on OJ was good. Also Murder in Spokane, and, last but not least his book on the Terry Schivo case.

By the way, if you are dead nuts guilty I could care less about cruel and unusual punishment. If you ass rape and murder people, several hours of miserable suffering is just what the doctor ordered. If someone did that to my daughter I'd be happy if the execution took a month.

I, like Fuhrman used to be a supporter, but politics gets in the way at times. Go figure.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby JoJo White » Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:40 pm

Texas politics and politicians. There's nothing like it.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby TIMMAH » Tue Oct 06, 2009 9:30 am

I bet it was the one armed man.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby jjgmyers » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:11 pm

but having a guy sit for two hours while people stick needles into bones and muscles is disturbing
.


Aww. Poor guy. He had to sit there for a whole 2 hours while they pricked little needles in his arm? Poor thing. Don't worry about the 14 y/o girl who was raped and brutally murdered by this POS

You must not have children.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby jfiling » Tue Oct 06, 2009 5:25 pm

jjgmyers wrote:
but having a guy sit for two hours while people stick needles into bones and muscles is disturbing
.


Aww. Poor guy. He had to sit there for a whole 2 hours while they pricked little needles in his arm? Poor thing. Don't worry about the 14 y/o girl who was raped and brutally murdered by this POS

You must not have children.

Even though I'm against the death penalty as a matter of principal, I'll shed no tears when he meets his end. I'm just one of those people who think that if it has to happen, it should be a painless quick procedure, instead of torture. There's a reason we no longer hang people or use the gas chamber, for example. Even the firing squad, which is my preferred method of all used right now, has the potential to not work perfectly, which is the standard the state needs to try to reach. Dr. Guillotin had the best method, but the French Revolution kinda messed that up.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby dem425 » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:24 am

............................................................ I'll shed no tears when he meets his end. I'm just one of those people who think that if it has to happen, it should be a painless quick procedure, instead of torture. There's a reason we no longer hang people or use the gas chamber, for example. Even the firing squad, which is my preferred method of all used right now, has the potential to not work perfectly, which is the standard the state needs to try to reach. Dr. Guillotin had the best method, but the French Revolution kinda messed that up.


EXCELLENT!!!!...............jfiling: You are spot on!
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby aoxo1 » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:59 am

jjgmyers wrote:
but having a guy sit for two hours while people stick needles into bones and muscles is disturbing
.


Aww. Poor guy. He had to sit there for a whole 2 hours while they pricked little needles in his arm? Poor thing. Don't worry about the 14 y/o girl who was raped and brutally murdered by this POS

You must not have children.


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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby CTownYaga » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:29 pm

You can't even argue against that point.

He's 100% correct. If we're going to have the death penalty, make it painless and quick. Take them out and give them death by firing squad for all I care. That's a quick death. You CANNOT make it torture, though. Even accidentally. You just can't. In fact, they should just shoot these people rather than calling in a rocket scientist and brain surgeon to do some fancy dancy lethal injection. You can be guaranteed you won't mess up.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby hermanfontenot » Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:43 pm

To paraphrase Dirty Harry, I have no problem with torture as long as it's the right people being tortured.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby mattvan1 » Thu Oct 08, 2009 8:33 am

A well researched non fiction book by Grisham. Really makes you stop and think about many other innocent people are railroaded.

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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby Zé Apelido » Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:16 pm

I did a research project on the topic in like 9th grade (randomly, with no bias or idea of whether it was useful or not), and overwhelmingly found, at the time, mostly negatives.

Main things:

1) A surprisingly decent amount of people getting killed innocently (I feel like 5%)
2) Lots of botched executions - most methods involve at least moderate suffering
3) Evidence that it didn't do anything to deter murder

It seemed pretty clear then but I'm sure those stats weren't as black/white as I perceived 13 yrs ago. Plus, one would think #1 and #2 would improve with time.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby aoxo1 » Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:58 pm

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi- ... 9579.story
Just months before the controversial removal of three members of a state commission investigating the forensics that led to a Texas man's 2004 execution, top aides to Gov. Rick Perry tried to pressure the chairman of the panel over the direction of the inquiry, the chairman has told the Tribune.

Samuel Bassett, whom Perry replaced on the Texas Forensic Science Commission two weeks ago, said he twice was called to meetings with Perry's top attorneys. At one of those meetings, Bassett said he was told they were unhappy with the course of the commission's investigation.

"I was surprised that they were involving themselves in the commission's decision-making," Bassett said. "I did feel some pressure from them, yes. There's no question about that."
...
According to Bassett, the governor's attorneys questioned the cost of the inquiry and asked why a fire scientist from Texas could not be hired to examine the case instead of the expert from Maryland that the panel ultimately settled on.

Following the meeting, a staffer from the general counsel's office began to attend the commission's meetings, Bassett said.


http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/met ... 62113.html
On Feb. 17, the day of the execution, Perry's office got the five-page faxed report at 4:52 p.m., according to documents the Houston Chronicle obtained in response to a public records request.

But it's unclear from the records whether he read it that day. Perry's office has declined to release any of his or his staff's comments or analysis of the reprieve request.

A statement from Perry spokesman Chris Cutrone, sent to the Chronicle late Friday, said that “given the brevity of (the) report and the general counsel's familiarity with all the other facts in the case, there was ample time for the general counsel to read and analyze the report and to brief the governor on its content.”

A few minutes after 5 p.m., defense lawyer Walter M. Reaves Jr. said he received word that the governor would not intervene. At 6:20 p.m. Willingham was executed after declaring: “I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime I did not commit.”

Summaries of gubernatorial reviews of execution cases previously were released as public records in Texas, most recently under former Gov. George W. Bush. Yet Perry's office has taken the position that any documents showing his own review and staff discussion of the Willingham case are not public — a claim the Chronicle disputes.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby Mr. MacPhisto » Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:24 pm

Zé Apelido wrote:I did a research project on the topic in like 9th grade (randomly, with no bias or idea of whether it was useful or not), and overwhelmingly found, at the time, mostly negatives.

Main things:

1) A surprisingly decent amount of people getting killed innocently (I feel like 5%)
2) Lots of botched executions - most methods involve at least moderate suffering
3) Evidence that it didn't do anything to deter murder

It seemed pretty clear then but I'm sure those stats weren't as black/white as I perceived 13 yrs ago. Plus, one would think #1 and #2 would improve with time.


I tend to agree with John Stuart Mill on this one, that the death penalty shows how much life is valued BUT it has to be taken seriously and any bit of reasonable doubt precludes it's use. I think in the Texas case it should have been commuted by the governor BECAUSE a motive to murder was far from clear.

I don't believe the death penalty is about deterring. It's about justice when someone who has very clearly taken a life ends up getting his own life taken away.

If it were about deterring then what a friend recommended would work best. He suggested that someone who gets convicted get the shit beat out of them every day for the rest of their lives and then gets shut in a cell without books, without a bad, without anything other than a cold floor. They get tasteless food every day and have nothing to look forward to other than getting the shit kicked out of them again the next day.

That would seem to be a pretty big deterrent.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby jb » Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:59 pm

Mr. MacPhisto wrote: They get tasteless food every day and have nothing to look forward to other than getting the shit kicked out of them again the next day.

That would seem to be a pretty big deterrent.


Bullshit Mac. It is a deterrent of nothing.

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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby Mr. MacPhisto » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:33 pm

JB wrote:
Bullshit Mac. It is a deterrent of nothing.

Tens of thousands of Browns' season ticket holders re-up each and every season.


Then maybe we should just force the worst felons to have to watch Browns games ad infinitum.

But that would violate the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the Constitution.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby mistero » Fri Oct 16, 2009 9:22 am

Innocent man in Texas? Not so much. Just listened to this guy's defense attorney on CNN. The guy used lighter fluid , spread it all over his kids room and the hallway. Then he moved the fridge in front of the door to make sure there would be no escape. The day after the fire he used the money collected by town's people that was supposed to be to help him for new boots, a new dartboard, and to buy rounds at the local watering hole. The lawyer says he was guilty. He defended him the best he could, but he was a soul less fuck with no conscience for burned his kids alive.

Fuck him. I'm waiting for a case of a real innocent person being executed. The death penalty is pay back delivered by society for victims who cannot extract any revenge themselves.

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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby Mr. MacPhisto » Fri Oct 16, 2009 9:49 am

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/ ... CTION=HOME

More info on this case.

Why didn't police take Ayala's statement back in 1991? It adds to the case against Willingham and every bit of evidence that can be gathered must be carefully considered.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby aoxo1 » Fri Oct 16, 2009 11:56 am

mistero wrote:Innocent man in Texas? Not so much. Just listened to this guy's defense attorney on CNN. The guy used lighter fluid , spread it all over his kids room and the hallway. Then he moved the fridge in front of the door to make sure there would be no escape. The day after the fire he used the money collected by town's people that was supposed to be to help him for new boots, a new dartboard, and to buy rounds at the local watering hole. The lawyer says he was guilty. He defended him the best he could, but he was a soul less fuck with no conscience for burned his kids alive.

Fuck him. I'm waiting for a case of a real innocent person being executed. The death penalty is pay back delivered by society for victims who cannot extract any revenge themselves.

If they need a good IV line on fatty in Ohio, I would be glad to do it.


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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby aoxo1 » Fri Oct 16, 2009 11:58 am

Mr. MacPhisto wrote:http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TEXAS_EXECUTION_ARSON?SITE=FLPET&SECTION=HOME

More info on this case.

Why didn't police take Ayala's statement back in 1991? It adds to the case against Willingham and every bit of evidence that can be gathered must be carefully considered.


They had a statement that he moved the car. That was part of their case. Go read the original story again.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby mistero » Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:28 pm

Yes, I didn't see anything that makes me beleive he didn't do it.
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby aoxo1 » Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:54 pm

mistero wrote:Yes, I didn't see anything that makes me beleive he didn't do it.


The fact they found no trace of lighter fluid anywhere but near the family's grill?
The fact that the refrigerator was there because it was a small kitchen?
The fact that the arson "investigators" used by the police knew nothing about how fires work and nearly all of their conclusions and methods were scientifically incorrect?
The fact that, in a recreation of a nearly identical arson case, they discovered that an accidental fire from a heat source such as a heater will cause this exact kind of burn pattern?
I know more about pizza than you. Much more in fact. - Cerebral_DownTime
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Re: Innocent man executed in Texas?

Unread postby jfiling » Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:27 pm

Radley Balko has a round-up of the latest weirdness in this case. Good reading, with supporting links.

http://reason.com/blog/2009/10/16/more- ... n-texas-po
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