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Hutchison knocks Perry’s handling of forensic panel | First Reading

via Hutchison knocks Perry’s handling of forensic panel | First Reading, Austin American Statesman, October 6, 2009

U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison moved all over the state Monday touting her endorsement from the political arm of the Texas Farm Bureau. More on that in a minute.

But first, during her Austin stop, she was asked to weigh in on Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to replace three members of the Forensic Science Commission just before it received a key report in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, whom the state put to death in 2004. Willingham was convicted of killing his children, but an expert who was going to report to the commission has recently found a number of faults with the arson investigation that led to his conviction.

The Houston Chronicle’s R.G. Ratcliffe asked Hutchison whether she would support a moratorium on the death penalty.

She replied that she supports the death penalty. “But I also believe that 100 percent of the people that also believe that the death penalty is a deterrent think we need to have all of the evidence and all of the technology to assure that when such a punishment is given, that we have all of the evidence and the capability to assure that the person is guilty. And I think I definitely disagree with the governor changing the commission just before the hearing that would perhaps lend some light on the technology that would be able to determine if arson was a factor. So I think it’s another case where the governor is trying to maintain a loyalty to him but not to the responsibility that the person who’s on the commission has taken to the people of Texas and our justice system.”

In response, Perry spokesman Mark Miner said, “Senator Hutchison is once again using political rhetoric with little regard for the facts, much like she has done during her 16 year career in Washington. After their terms expired, the Governor appointed new members who will look at the issue.”

Their terms were up, but it’s worth noting that gubernatorial appointees often stay in their posts for months or years after their terms expire.

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