Appeals court: Judge was wrong in Texas arson case

December 21, 2010 9:43:35 AM PST
A Texas appeals court has halted an inquiry into whether a man convicted of arson was wrongly executed, saying a judge acted improperly. The Third Texas Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Judge Charlie Baird "abused his discretion" by not recusing himself or referring a motion for his recusal to another judge.

Baird presided over an October hearing into whether Cameron Willingham was wrongly executed for setting a 1991 fire that killed his three daughters. Many fire experts now say the blaze was accidental.

Attorneys from the Innocence Project are trying to clear Willingham's name and get the state to acknowledge he was wrongly executed.

A Texas prosecutor sought Baird's recusal, questioning his impartiality. Baird declined to rule on the motion, saying the prosecutor didn't have standing in the case.


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