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News 8 Austin: Hundreds gather to march against the death penalty

Hundreds gather to march against the death penalty
10/25/2009 10:39 AM
By: Russell Wilde

Hundreds united downtown to march against capital punishment.

Cameron Todd Willingham was executed for starting the 1991 fire that killed his three children.

Elizabeth Gilbert befriended Willingham while he was on death row and has been leading the effort to have the case reexamined.

Gilbert joined hundreds at the 10th annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Downtown Austin Saturday.

“I’m hoping more people become aware of the problems with the death penalty. That even if one person is executed who’s innocent that’s one too many,” Gilbert said.

Earlier this month, while defending his shake up of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, Gov. Rick Perry said Willingham’s murder convictions were upheld several times before his 2004 execution.

“The facts of this case show that this was a heinous individual who murdered his kids,” Gov. Perry said.

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Capital Punishment

News 8’s Russell Wilde has more on this year’s March to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Gilbert said the governor is trying to distract the public from the possibility that Texas executed an innocent man.

“The experts have stated it was not arson. The fire was not deliberately set, therefore the prosecution had no case, and he should not have been arrested,” Gilbert said.

Ron Keine also attended Saturday’s march. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to New Mexico’s death row for a crime he did not commit.

Keine also believes Perry is trying to burry the evidence about the Willingham case.

Saturday was the 10th annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty.

“He can’t do this the world is looking at this, and he is putting a blight on Texas,” Keine said.

Walter Reed’s son Rodney is currently on death row, he took part in the march to send the message that the death penalty needs to be stopped.

“I just hope something comes out of it. That’s what we’re all here for to make something happen,” Reed said.

Gilbert said there is one way to make sure an innocent person is not put to death.

“The only way were going to eliminate it is by abolishing the death penalty, and then if you are innocent you won’t be put to death like Todd,” Gilbert said.

For more information visit the March for Abolition website.

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