Cameron Todd Willingham :
14th murderer executed in U.S. in 2004
Executed February 17, 2004 at 6:20 p.m. by lethal injection in Texas
Summary of the Murder: Cameron Willingham, a former auto mechanic, was sentenced to death for killing his three young children in the family's house in Corsicana in December 1991.
Murderer - Cameron Todd Willingham
- Date of Birth - January 9, 1968
- Race - White
- Sex - Male
- Age when crime committed - 23
- Date of Sentence - August 21, 1992
- Age when executed - 36
- Amber Louise Kuykendall - Age 2
- Karmon Diane Willingham - Age 1
- Kameron Marie Willingham - Age 1
- Date of Murder - August 21, 1992
- Race - All victims were White
- Sex - All victims were Female
- Method of Murder - Fire
- Relationship to Murderer - His children
Details of the Crime:
The evidence provided at the trial showed that on December 23, 1991, Willingham poured a combustible liquid on the floor throughout his home and intentionally set the house on fire, resulting in the death of his three children.
The Autopsy Reports:
According to autopsy reports, Amber, age two, and twins Karmon and Kameron, age one, died of acute carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of smoke inhalation.
Testimony at the Trial:
Neighbors of Willingham testified that as the house began smoldering, Willingham was crouched down in the front yard, and despite the neighbors' pleas, refused to go into the house in any attempt to rescue the children.
An expert witness for the State testified that the floors, front threshold, and front concrete porch were burned, which only occurs when an accelerant has been used to purposely burn these areas. The witness further testified that this igniting of the floors and thresholds is typically employed to impede firemen in their rescue attempts.
Neighbors Say Willingham Showed No Remorse:
The testimony at trial demonstrates that Willingham neither showed remorse for his actions nor grieved the loss of his three children. Willingham's neighbors testified that when the fire blew out the windows, Willingham hollered about his car and ran to move it away from the fire to avoid its being damaged. A fire fighter also testified that Willingham was upset that his dart board was burned.
Christmas Eve - The Day After the Fire:
One of Willingham's neighbors testified that the morning following the house fire, Christmas Eve, Willingham and his wife were at the burned house going through the debris while playing music and laughing.
At the punishment phase of trial, testimony was presented that Willingham has a history of violence. He has been convicted of numerous felonies and misdemeanors, both as an adult and as a juvenile, and attempts at various forms of rehabilitation have proven unsuccessful.
The jury also heard evidence of Willingham's character. Witnesses testified that Willingham was verbally and physically abusive toward his family, and that at one time he beat his pregnant wife in an effort to cause a miscarriage. A friend of Willingham's testified that Willingham once bragged about brutally killing a dog. In fact, Willingham openly admitted to a fellow inmate that he purposely started this fire to conceal evidence that the children had been abused.
Dr. James Grigson testified for the state at punishment stating that Willingham fits the profile of a sociopath whose conduct becomes more violent over time, and who lacks a conscience. He expressed his opinion that an individual demonstrating this type of behavior can not be rehabilitated in any manner.
Verdict and Sentencing: On August 20, 1993, the jury found Willingham guilty of capital murder and, after a separate punishment phase hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of death.
The Execution: For his final meal, Willingham had three barbecued pork ribs, two orders of onion rings, fried okra, three beef enchiladas with cheese and two slices of lemon cream pie.
Once in the execution room he said his final words: "I am an innocent man convicted of a crime I did not commit. From God's dust I came and to dust I will return, so the Earth shall become my throne. I gotta go, Road Dog."
He then looked at his ex-wife who was watching from the witness room and said "I hope you rot in hell, bitch." and tried to make an obscene gesture with his strapped down hand as he continued to yell obscenities at her.
He was pronounced dead at 6:20 p.m.
Source: Texas Attorney General Media Advisory