Governor Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles had been given a report prepared by noted fire expert Dr. Gerald Hurst before Todd Willingham’s execution that cast doubt that the fire was arson, but they ignored it.
Read documents obtained from Governor Rick Perry’s office and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. The Innocence Project requested all documents concerning a critical report on the Willingham case that renowned arson expert Dr. Gerald Hurst wrote and disseminated to officials in both offices in the days before Willingham’s execution in February 2004.
This document contains the full copy of the report by Dr Gerald Hurst (page 7 of PDF) before Willingham’s execution (as sent from the Attorney General’s Office to the Governor’s Office), saying that the forensic analysis that convicted Willingham was full of “many critical errors” and reaches “invalid” conclusions.
Neither office has any record of anyone acknowledging the report’s contents, taking note of its significance, responding to it, or calling particular attention to it within the government. This lack of action indicates that in the days and hours before Willingham was executed, the Governor’s Office and the Board of Pardons and Paroles ignored critical expert analysis – new scientific information – that cast serious doubt on whether the Willingham fire was arson.