Applause as Perry Defends Death Penalty

But serious questions were raised about execution on Rick's watch
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Sep 8, 2011 2:00 AM CDT
Republican presidential candidate Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a Republican presidential candidate debate at the Reagan Library Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, in Simi Valley, Calif.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) – One thing Rick Perry doesn't lose sleep over are the executions in his state. Asked last night if he ever worried that Texas has put an innocent man to death, he answered confidently: "No, sir. I've never struggled with that at all." He praised the state's "thoughtful, very clear process when someone commits the most heinous of crimes." If "you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer ... you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, you will be executed." Members of the audience applauded when it was revealed that 234 prisoners have been put to death while Perry has been governor, notes the Huffington Post.

The New Yorker in 2009 revealed very serious doubts by scientific experts about evidence against Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 on Perry's watch for a fire that killed Willingham's three daughters. A year after the execution the Texas Forensic Science Commission re-examined the case, and its investigator concluded that there was no reliable evidence that arson had been committed.

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