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Fri October 16, 2009
Fire Scientist Beyler Refutes Governor Perry
By Bill Zeeble
Dallas – Texas Governor Rick Perry says those raising questions over his decision to dissolve a forensics commission looking into a deadly 1991 fire are biased and politically driven. But the expert he's attacking says the Governor has it wrong. KERA's Bill Zeeble reports.
Nationally recognized fire science expert Craig Beyler wrote a report questioning every single bit of evidence that put Cameron Willingham on death row for murdering his 3 small children. At least 6 other experts shared in Beyler's views, with which Perry now disagrees. The Governor hinted at a bias.
Perry: I would suggest to you if you look at the bulk of Mr. Beyler's remarks over the last days and weeks you will see a very politically driven agenda.
KERA reached Craig Beyler, who did not want his voice on the air. But he denied the Governor's charge. Beyler said "Certainly I'm not politically driven. Interference in scientific commissions is something I do have passion about. Political interference in scientific inquiry and political interference in trying to improve forensic science I have opinions about."
Perry also accused Beyler of holding an anti-death penalty bias and Beyler rejected that too, says he has no anti-death penalty politics.
Two days before the states' Forensic Commission was to publicly accept the Beyler report, Perry disbanded the group , saying the 3 Commissioners terms had expired. Critics say he was trying to postpone evidence suggesting an innocent man was executed on his watch. Perry says Willingham was guilty.
Perry: Those who don't want to talk about this case go down rabbit trails. This was a very heinous crime that was committed by an individual who was described by his own defense attorney as a monster. Who also states he had come to believe this man was guilty.
Beyler says he just wants the Governor to look at his report. "My responsibility," he says, "was to evaluate the investigation that was done, to evaluate whether it was done properly with regard to fire science and resulted in findings that could be sustained. And the answer is no" Perry says the report will be taken up by the new Forensics Commission, but wouldn't say when they will convene again. Bill Zeeble KERA news.