Rick Perry executed a father of three after a Texas prosecutor hid evidence proving him innocent

In early March, the state bar of Texas filed a misconduct charge against a prosecutor who obtained a conviction in one of the country’s most controversial death penalty cases, accusing him of hiding evidence that could have exonerated a father of murder.

The filing alleges that prosecutor John Jackson withheld evidence that could have proved the innocence of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for the murder of his three young daughters after they died in a house fire in 1991.

“Before, during, and after the 1992 trial, [Jackson] knew of the existence of evidence that tended to negate the guilt of Willingham, and failed to disclose that evidence to defense counsel,” the charge reads.

According to the complaint, Jackson also lied to the court saying that he had no evidence that could help Willingham’s defense.

The charge also alleges that Jackson made multiple attempts to secure favorable treatment for Johnny Webb, an imprisoned informant who testified that Willingham started the fire. Jackson looked to reduce Webb’s charge from aggravated robbery to robbery as a reward for his testimony. But back in 2000, Webb recanted his testimony and admitted he lied on the witness stand so that he could get a reduced sentence.

Jackson has maintained his innocence and insists that Willingham, who was 23 at time of the incident, is guilty of committing arson.

From The Raw Story:

Despite mounting concern that Willingham was innocent, the former Texas governor Rick Perry refused to stay his execution. In 2009, after an investigation by the Texas Forensic Science Commission found that the arson evidence was faulty, Perry replaced the board’s chairman and two other members and called Willingham “a monster.”

The execution was briefly a contentious topic during Perry’s bid for the Republican nomination for the 2012 US presidential election. During a debate, Perry was asked whether the possibility of having executed an innocent person made it hard for him to sleep at night. “No, sir, I’ve never struggled with that at all,” replied Perry, now a possible Republican presidential candidate again.

While in the Texas death chamber before receiving his lethal injection, Willingham said, “The only statement I want to make is that I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do.”

Jackson could be disbarred if he’s found guilty.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore (Flickr) [This post has been updated]

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  1. Gary Harms

    March 19, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Disbarred??? That’s all? While Rick Perry sleeps like a baby at night this murderer Jackson is simply going to be disbarred. Parry is complicit in the murder of the innocent victim as well by meddling in the Leadership of of the investigation done by the Forensics Unit but of course this is Texas we’re talking about so nothing will happen to Perry Perhaps because because he’s mentally impaired he gets a pass. What a state, and they want to leave the Union? Go….you’re dumbing down the rest of the country with crimes of the state like this.

  2. Leroy Poudrier

    March 19, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    ALL criminals need to be held accountable. the state can do it,or the people can.

  3. millerlynn777

    March 19, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    The man needs to be charged with murder!!!! The horrors that man went through, knowing he was innocent, and had a long life ahead of him, snuffed out by a lying prosecutor who’s “win” record was more important than Justice!!!!!
    And when Perry knew that there were serious questions about the man’s guilt, the LEAST he could have done was commute his sentence!!!

  4. Cin Chen

    March 20, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Shouldn’t this prosecutor be charged with manslaughter, at least?

  5. Phyllis Nicolls

    March 20, 2015 at 3:21 am

    Makes me sick!! What happen to the prosecutor who hide evidence. This is murder!

  6. Donna Hayden

    March 20, 2015 at 3:43 am

    Will Darlie be next?

  7. Rick

    March 20, 2015 at 3:53 am

    You are an idiot if you believe that the criminal justice system is nit infallible. There have been numerous cases where people wrongly convicted of crimes and sentenced to death have later been found to be innocent. But hey, who cares if an innocent person is put to death. I hope you are never convicted of a crime you did not commit.

  8. Thomas

    March 20, 2015 at 4:57 am

    This is Texas. I am not surprised. Glad I do not live there anymore.

  9. Nickie Kalla

    March 20, 2015 at 5:22 am

    The death penalty is barbaric. Only four countries put to death as many people as ours. China is number one, but then again they have a population that exceeds ours by what… A billion? We are the only western country that still has the death penalty. We have a horrible track record when it comes to the death penalty. There have been over a hundred exonerations (that means they were proven innocent of the crimes they have been convicted of). The death penalty turns doctors and wardens and prison guards into complicit murderers as well. The way we kill people is just as disgusting as ISIS beheading people. In fact, I think beheading is much less painful than lethal injection. Can you imagine that botched lethal injection, where it took several hours for the man to die. I think they said he gasped for air 600 times. Imagine having to witness that.

  10. wintermute

    March 20, 2015 at 5:44 am

    Mix death penalty and a highly deficient judiciary system, and that’s what you get. Everything has to be rebuilt from the cops recruiting and training, to the shameful election system for prosecutors

  11. Nickie Kalla

    March 20, 2015 at 5:57 am

    I truly don’t know how Rick Perry who claims to be a Christian can look himself in the mirror after murdering an innocent man.

  12. David Holston

    March 20, 2015 at 7:46 am

    This is murder and should be treated as such. Give him the same first degree.

  13. grammiedebi

    March 20, 2015 at 8:13 am

    So let me make sure I have this straight…he’s Governor of the state that wants to LEAVE the Union…but he wants to be President of the Unites States???

  14. Lamont M Bankston

    March 20, 2015 at 9:19 am

    I’d put him in a cell with a bunch of men he sent to prison.

  15. John Cocktoasten

    March 20, 2015 at 10:03 am

    It is hard to criticize Rick Perry. I have sympathy for the mentally challenged. Texas continues impress me by the Yosemite SAMs they contine to elect.

  16. Ron Williams

    March 20, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    The first and the last sentence tells me all I need to know about Texas and America in general. The first sentence says he could be charged with “Misconduct” How about MURDER? And the last says he could be “disbarred” How about EXECUTED?

  17. Dan

    March 20, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    “Webb recanted his testimony and admitted he lied on the witness stand so that he could get a reduced sentence.” Shocking that a criminal would lie to help himself! No one could have seen that one coming.

  18. promptcritical

    March 20, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    I’m with you. Why not Conspiracy to Commit Murder? Because by hiding the evidence that’s what he did.

  19. David McDaniel

    March 20, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    They should both be charged and spend the rest of their lives in prison.

  20. Kelly Roberts

    March 20, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Even when it’s the STATE, the state prosecutor, and the state’s governor!!

  21. Krissy J

    March 20, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    His duty was to prosecute to the full extent of the law, not to earn another notch in his belt. Both the governor and the prosecutor need to be brought up on criminal charges. This is negligent and both need to step down from office as well as prosecuted for murder. Unfortunately, top politicians are part of the elite classes in the world who pay their way to everything they have. The people have a misguided perception of democracy, and don’t have the testicles humanity had when we revolutionized our country originally. We are our own tyrant and unless the people open their eyes, it will never be stopped.

    If someone looks down at a cell phone while driving and they hit someone jay walking, they are charged with manslaughter, wreck less driving and a slew of other things. If a politician breaks the law, they will get a slap on the wrist and they carry on their merry way. Prosecutors do this all of the time. They want to win because it looks good on a job resume and they forget that their alleged criminals are people with families, too. Governors don’t stop the ticking clock in a state like Texas without solid information making them look like saints.

    That’s the horror our children have to deal with if our generation doesn’t step up.

  22. Thomas Young

    March 20, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    I see nothing in the article that states he was innocent of the crime, only the fact that the prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence. It would have been nice to know what evidence was withheld but the article does not address it. Without knowing the nature of the evidence against the defendant,how can anyone conclude whether he was guilty or innocent? The evidence should have been disclosed, no doubt, but what was it?

  23. Jessica Restrepo

    March 21, 2015 at 5:13 am

    It would take a psychopath to send an man you know is innocent to that kind of hell and execution after losing his daughters in a fire. It’s hard to imagine glorifying this country who would allow someone as psychopathic as Perry that he gets the potential to be president. That’s not saying much for the intelligence level of people in the US.

  24. Cam

    March 21, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Don’t forget he was also dealing with the grief of the deaths of his children at the same time.. That poor Man,

  25. Gary Harms

    March 21, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Thomas Young – You’re right, the article does not provide much in the way of facts of the case but if you do a search of the Willingham case you will find that the man was charged with the arson murder of his own family based on extremely faulty and prejudicial expert testimony which was later proven wrong by factual recreations done by actual proven experts. This testimony was not considered and was not allowed and would surely have proven Mr Willingham to be not guilty. It is a fascinating yet sadly tragic case that proves both Mr. Jackson and Rick Perry to be complicit of wrongdoing and Perry to be guilty of heartless conduct in sacrificing an innocent life for political means, rather than admit a man was wrongly railroaded by Texas style justice

  26. Mike Parent

    March 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Tell us how Pro Life you are, again. FN Butcher.

  27. Ed Gilbert

    March 21, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    You forget the important part. At the time Perry was running for the Republican presidential nomination and had to prove he was “tough on crime”.

  28. Donna Hayden

    March 21, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Thomas, If I recall correctly, the new evidence proved that the fire was not arson but probably electrical. Either way, the judge and jury had a right to hear the evidence.

  29. Enraged

    March 21, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    I hope this is the watershed case that gets the death penalty finally abolished. Even the chance of an innocent person being executed should be enough to get rid of this barbaric and anachronistic practice but it seems we finally, and horrifyingly, have a case where it might have actually happened. And the prosecutor is a murderer. Absolutely should be charged at least with conspiracy to commit murder.

  30. Russel Ray Photos

    March 21, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    As much as I dislike Perry, the headline is misleading because Perry obviously didn’t execute anyone. He did allow the execution to go forward, though, when he could have stopped it.

  31. Psychodad

    March 21, 2015 at 10:29 pm

    I agree. Disbarred is just a slap on the wrist considering he should be held to be complicit in a state sanctioned murder.

    I’m not sure Perry should be held accountable for this unless Perry also knew of this evidence. It sounds that as far as Perry knew, the guy was 100% guilty and thus why should he stay the execution? Still, the fact that he is fine with the possibility of executing an innocent man shows that he is in no way fit to be our President. It shows a complete lack of compassion/empathy.

  32. Rod Harty

    March 21, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    Perry knew damn well there were problems.. He disbanded the commission and did his best to cover his tracks.

  33. Gabriel Huerta

    March 21, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Not in Texass where the object is to execute as many as they can and with no regrets as Perry expresses.

  34. Charlie Magleid

    March 21, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    If this prosecutor had evidence that he knowingly withheld that could have saved an innocent mans life he should be charged with first degree murder in my opinion.

  35. Peter Wormer

    March 22, 2015 at 12:20 am

    That Prosecutor “JAckson”, should be prosecuted to the FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW, and -if found guilty- should be sentenced to LIFE in Prison WITHOUT PAROLE…..Ex Gov.Rick Perry should be prosecuted as well as an accessory AFTER the fact, and spent time in jail also..25 yrs would be a start.

  36. Eileen McGovern

    March 22, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    He needs to be prosecuted just as a murderer would be convicted. He knew the man was innocent but still went through with convicting him to get some political gain out of it to be nominated for the 2012 US Presidential election which is an even more sicker crazier psychotic person and the state needs to do something about him killing an innocent man.

  37. dzerres

    March 22, 2015 at 7:14 pm

    This shows you why there should never be a death penalty for a conviction based on circumstantial evidence. The death penalty is fine for a “smoking gun” murder where everyone saw the guy do the crime like Jack Ruby or the Aurora theater shooter. OJ Simpson, if he had been convicted, should not have faced the death penalty, just in case.

  38. Bob Webster

    March 23, 2015 at 12:39 am

    This is Murder 1. If someone dies because of your considered action, that’s premeditated murder. This asshole should follow Willingham. Full stop.

  39. Sherry Morris

    March 23, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I believe that, at one point, it was discovered that forensic evidence in fires, in general, was being wrongly interpreted to indicate arson. It was incumbant upon the governor to examine all of the evidence and make a decision based on justice, not prejudiced views. The witholding of forensic evidence, favoritism toward the inmate giving false “evidence”, and the actions by the prosecutor to tamper with the review process by removing decision makers from the review panel to skew the outcome in the prosecutor’s favor, were factors evidently not condidered by Perry. Instead, it appears that he simply rubber stamped the prosecutor’s decision. Besides the failure ti give due diligence in a death penalty case, it calls into question the closeness of Perry’s relationship with the prosecutor. The latter does not appear to have been scrutinized by anyone regarding this case, and, perhaps, others.

  40. eaglesfanintn

    April 15, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    Rick Perry on the death penalty:
    No, sir. I’ve never struggled with that at all. The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place of which — when someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States, if that’s required.

    So much for a clear process and a fair hearing.

  41. Jeepsrule98

    May 7, 2015 at 11:59 pm

    Last year alone, 115 people were exonerated for crimes they did not commit. That is one person every 3 days released from prison. We are in need of a better justice system. Maybe a different justice system, because the one we have is not working.

  42. Jeepsrule98

    May 8, 2015 at 12:01 am

    Sorry it was 125 not 115

  43. William Lanteigne

    May 8, 2015 at 1:34 am

    Jackson should be charged with murder, and Perry charged as an accomplice. Maybe it will have to wait until Texas has another Democratic governor and AG.

  44. loganbacon

    May 8, 2015 at 2:03 am

    These guys get absolute immunity under the law. It out to be no more than qualified immunity, which can be overcome.

  45. guitarken

    May 8, 2015 at 5:08 am

    Thank you – best comment yet.

  46. JP Cantrell

    May 8, 2015 at 8:09 am

    This just sickens my heart….While I myself do not like Mr Perry…I disagree with the accusation of responsibility and I wonder if he even knew the details of the case. If he had knowledge of the recanted testimony and failed to investigate it more thoroughly, then he failed as the Governor in his duties and should be ashamed of his INACTION to give a stay to prevent this poor man’s execution.
    The Prosecutor should be charged with murder for withholding such vital information.
    Prosecutors should NEVER be in the business of collecting WINS….but seeing that JUSTICE IS SERVED. It certainly appears that JUSTICE was nowhere to be found in this reprehensible case.

  47. doug wert

    May 8, 2015 at 8:24 am

    Hmm you should try reading that again Dan. Jackson looked to reduce Webb’s charge from aggravated robbery to robbery as a reward for his testimony. But back in 2000, Webb recanted his testimony and admitted he lied on the witness stand so that he could get a reduced sentence. I like the way you condensed and edited that though. Fox news has a job opening for you.

  48. Maria Suarez

    May 8, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Not only does it show a complete lack of compassion/empathy, it also shows a complete, and utter depth of idiocy.

  49. Kalar Walters

    May 8, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I agree. There is precedent wherein someone hires a “thug” to just rough somebody up, but that somebody dies as a result. The “hirer” and the “hiree” are both charged with murder.

  50. Rob

    May 8, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    This story has disgusted me since Willingham was murdered. But the probability that either Jackson or Perry, or Alberto Gonzales, who was equally culpable, will ever pay for what they did is just about zero. This would require a Federal law that makes corruption in prosecution or in handling appeals a Federal crime.

    And also, BTW, a new Supreme Court majority willing to scrap prosecutorial immunity.

  51. Steve

    May 8, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    I guess some Republicans enjoy killing innocent Americans. It’s sad that there isn’t a bigger political backlash when politicians do bad things against innocent harding working Americans.

  52. TerraX

    May 8, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Yeah. SMH

  53. Dene Bonner

    May 8, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Gary I don’t want to go anywhere, I live in Texas and I vote Blue too, and as much as I don’t like the ones that are in control everybody here don’t fit into the Stupid Category.

  54. shirley faye

    May 8, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Glad I am a canadian

  55. Stephen Fry

    May 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

    There’s a difference here, Rick. If the prosecutor withheld vital evidence that could have introduced “reasonable doubt”, the the Prosecutor needs to hang. Yes – innocent people are falsely accused daily. But to put someone to death, the jury needs to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. I agree with other posters that if the prosecutor withheld vital information that could have meant this man would have lived in prison or even exonerated – the prosecutor just deprived this man of his life. Personally, I’m all for Hammurabi’s Code. If someone deprives another of life, they deserve to lose their own. But you damn well better be sure before you “drop the guillotine”.

  56. Ian Beddowes

    May 9, 2015 at 1:09 am

    This is what we expect from Christians with their primitive belief system.

  57. Tikiguy

    May 9, 2015 at 1:30 am

    He was a Governor of Texas who threatened that Texas has a right to leave the Union and should if Washington (Obama) thumbs its nose at the American people. So because he’s a southern Republican who hates Obama, he gets his people riled up with thoughts of leaving America. But then he wants to be President, whose job it is to preserve the Union. Hypocrite?

  58. Ed Hinojosa

    May 9, 2015 at 3:52 am


  59. Mike O Mike

    May 9, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Why are you all surprised at Texas, one of the states in the union that believes a terror suspect should be allowed to buy assault rifles”game weapons” ridiculous idiots run that state. I second the congressman from Georgia “Texas is a stupid state”. I rest my thoughts.

  60. Christa

    May 9, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    You are so right!! We need to double check everyone’s character before electing them for anything. Otherwise very soon “Idiots ” will be in charge of all of us.!!!

  61. DLR

    May 9, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Lmao! That’s a very amusing analogy! Go figure!!!

  62. jack wise

    May 9, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    Disbarring the prosecutor is BS. He needs to face murder charges and so does Perry. They are vile, hateful and astonishingly arrogant POS.

  63. Walt

    May 10, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Well wouldn’t O. J. have been a “circumstantial” case?

  64. Walt

    May 10, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Yeah. Me too. Seems like a mad house down there.

  65. gary harms

    May 10, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    I understand. I’m sorry if I implied that all Texans were at fault here. I know the Austin area is strongly “Blue” and I feel badly for those Texans who have to live under the horrible leadership that governs the state presently.

  66. Mucho Grande

    May 10, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I am so GLAD I do not live in Texas. The level of corruption in state government in Texas surpasses NY and NJ (way beyond) and Rick (the dick) Perry has no business in public office on ANY level.

  67. Mucho Grande

    May 10, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Since the early 1900s in America to hold public office means to serve at the pleasure of people in the shadows who have enormous sums of money. A very small % of the population has control of most of the money and they call ALL the shots, not just for America but all of the countries in the western hemisphere. If every person making less than 500,000 a year shifted all of their assets to BITCOIN instead of the dollar we would have a chance to turn the tide of corrupt politics in this country. But as it stands things are only going to get worse.

  68. DC

    May 13, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    The prosecutor need to be brought up on voluntary manslaughter charges. He voluntarily did not share information that could have freed an innocent man. He deserves jail time.

  69. GonzoG

    May 14, 2015 at 12:16 am

    The prosecutor and former Governor Perry give no f###s nor rat’s a$$€$.

  70. Random

    May 14, 2015 at 12:31 am

    If you have the power to stop a death and let it happen, then you caused that death as much as any other factor.

    Perry not only knew there was more evidence, he tried to hide it. He’s a murderer.

  71. Nancy Walton

    May 14, 2015 at 4:07 am

    The definition of the word “exculpatory” is removing guilt.

  72. Pat

    May 14, 2015 at 11:08 am

    Unfortunately, Christa, the idiots are all ready in control of all of us. Power given to them by the whack jobs that vote for them and the rational, intelligent people who don’t vote to stop them.

  73. Fredbear

    May 14, 2015 at 3:34 pm


  74. Donna Royce

    May 15, 2015 at 2:03 am

    Want to make a heavy bet on that statment of yours Dene? I lived in Texas for three years and ALL I SAW in the Texas Government was STUPID!

  75. Shahid pArwez

    June 5, 2015 at 12:07 am

    Right I am state sanctioned murder.

  76. grammiedebi

    July 30, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    I know. But it’s scarier than it is funny.

  77. Pete Rodriguez

    August 6, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    You are right and I am embarrassed as a Texan for the lack of quality politicians coming out of this great state…..

  78. william

    August 9, 2015 at 1:18 am

    An eye for an eye leaves the world blind, even if it’s the eye of the man who poked out someone else’s eye…

  79. Emkay

    August 25, 2015 at 10:22 pm

    Stopped in Texas for “being black while driving.” Charged falsely with (you pick the charge.) Prosecuted by a racist prosecutor. Yes, Texas is quite a wonderful place. THIS CAN AND LIKELY DOES HAPPEN often “deep in the heart of Texas.”

  80. John Baker

    August 26, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Don’t feel bad. There are no “quality Republicans” anywhere else either.

  81. Christy

    September 11, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Gary, you know, I was saying it loud , and was going to write, that I said the same exact words you did. So I don’t need to make my full comment. Thank you.

  82. John

    September 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    String Perry and Jackson up.

  83. muggie2

    September 16, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Absolutely conspiracy to commit murder. He knew there was evidence proving the man not guilty – he deliberately withheld it, and an innocent man died as a result. He withheld it *knowing* that it would cause that particular man’s death.

  84. John W

    December 21, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Perry and Jackson are disgusting pigs who should be rotting behind bars.

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