Innocence Project Report: Cameron Todd Willingham
Dudley Sharp, contact info below


In the Willingham case, the Innocent Project Report (IPR), in their executive Summary, found the fire was not an incendiary fire.
The IPR provided no evidence of that and no other source for the fire was established. Discounting their statement goes to their lack of proof/evidence for the claim, for which they have none.


It may go to a professional standard that says, if you can’t prove it’s arson, then it is accidental.  Not true, of course, at least in this case.


Therefore, the IP Executive Summary conclusion is highly misleading or a lie, based only upon this layman’s understanding of “the fire was not an incendiary fire.”


Not surprising. Barry Scheck, the head of the Innocence Project, states: “There can no longer be any doubt that an innocent person (Willingham) has been executed.”


How, blatantly, dishonest can Scheck get? All Scheck is doing is removing any remaining doubt as to the IP’s bias and hurting an already damaged image of forensic scientists as anything but objective parties.


Barry, why do that? Likely, it is only based on a partisan anti death penalty bias. No excuse.


Has the media gone after Sheck on this? Of course not. This goes to the media’s unchallenged bias against the death penalty in this, as in many death penalty cases.  Same ole story.


The IPR, a short review:


NOTE: I have significant problems with the way the IPR was written. The IPR often travels down one road, only, seemingly, that of the defense in a criminal case. What the IPR fails to do, is tell the reader the full story.


I quote sections of the IPR, below, and after those are my reply, which is “WTIFTM” or “what the IPR forgot to mention”.


IPR: “This process can create patterns on those surfaces of the type described by Mr. Vasquez as “puddle configurations” and “pour patterns.” More importantly, these patterns can be created in compartment fires where no flammable liquids were introduced.” (p 9, lines 8-11)


WTIFTM: It also can be created by flammable liquids in an arson fire. Possibly, persistent patterns remained.


IPR: “Based on this work, significant differences in the condition and appearance of the fire compartments and contents were observed between experiments with the same method of ignition. Simply stated, the patterns produced could not be used to discriminate an arson fire from an accidental fire.” (p9, lines 28-31)


WTIFTM: Precisely, could have been arson, could have been accidental. Possibly, persistent patterns remained.


IPR: “Even if we assume for the sake of argument that Mr. Vasquez’s repeated assertions that there was liquid accelerant used in this fire are correct, the distance between the three alleged areas of origin would not constitute an effective separation for a flammable liquid because the vapor would simply flash across the intervening space between the alleged pools of liquid fuel. In essence, there could only have been one origin given Mr. Vasquez’s determination.” (p 12, lines 3-8)


WTIFTM: Yes, assuming that Vasquez was correct, the fire, most certainly, could have been arson. There could have been three origination points for the arson. Yet, the effects of a flashover may have erased any evidence of separation, possibly making an arson fire indistinguishable from an accidental fire and producing evidence of a single origin, when there may have been multiple origins. Possibly, persistent patterns remained.


IPR: “Each and every one of the “indicators” listed by Mr. Vasquez means absolutely nothing, and, in fact, is expected in the context of a fire that has achieved full room involvement, as this fire clearly did. Low burning, charred flooring and burning underneath items of furniture are common characteristics of a fully involved fire.34 They mean nothing with respect to the origin and cause of the fire, and they absolutely do not support any hypothesis that the fire had been accelerated by liquid fuels.” (p17 lines 19-24)


WTIFTM: In fact, it supports neither hypothesis, that it was arson or accidental. It could have been either. Possibly, persistent patterns remained.


IPR: “Further, as stated earlier, it is impossible for flammable liquid to flow underneath a threshold and burn, because there is a lack of available oxygen under the threshold to support flaming combustion. (p 17, lines 41-43)


WTIFTM: To state the obvious, it depends upon how secure the threshold is. If loose, worn, old and cracked, there may be sufficient oxygen to support flaming combustion.


IPR: “All of the (IPR) authors have seen reports like this one. If the Fire Marshal’s determination is wrong, his identification of the “lies” told by the defendant is equally wrong.”  p18, lines 13, 14)


WTIFTM: In this case, that may not be true. It is important to note the IPR said ” ‘If’ the fire marshal’s determination is wrong. Because the IPR cannot conclude arson or accidental, it is very possible that the Fire Marshall was correct in his conclusion of arson, even though his methodology and foundation for determining that may have been in error. He may have, allegedly, bumbled his way into the correct conclusion. If arson, Willingham’s lies may have been properly identified, bumbles and all. While the IPR may have made a good case for flawed forensics, they cannot dispute that the fire may have been arson. Therefore, the conclusion of the Fire Marshall may be correct, even though the method of arriving at it, possibly, was not. Possibly, persistent patterns remained.


NOTE: we have, still, not seen the  updated Corsicana Fire Department Report, if there will be one. I suspect there will be. Nor have we seen the report by the Texas Fire Marshal’s office, although we do have a statement from them that they will be standing by their expert, Vasquez’, report.


As I have, repeatedly stated, since August, do not make hasty decisions in this case. It has a long way to go.


Dudley Sharp
e-mail,  713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O’Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

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