Texas execution probe: Perry ignored advice on forensics chair

AUSTIN -- A statewide lawyers group that recommends nominees to the Texas Forensic Science Commission urged Gov. Rick Perry to retain commission Chairman Sam Bassett less than four weeks before the Austin lawyer was ousted in a commission shake-up that has stalled an inquiry involving a 2004 execution.

Three members of the commission, including two who were dismissed in the shake-up, also wrote Perry to urge Bassett’s reappointment, according to interviews and letters obtained Tuesday.

Perry has drawn national attention for his dismissal of Bassett and commission members Alan Levy, a prosecutor in the Tarrant County district attorney's office, and Aliece Watts, a forensic scientist who lives in Burleson.

The dismissals were announced two days before the nine-member panel was scheduled to review a forensic report challenging the arson findings that that led to Cameron Todd Willingham's execution five years ago.

Willingham, of Corsicana, was found guilty in the deaths of his three daughters in a 1991 fire. He said he was asleep in his house when the fire started and denied that he deliberately killed them.

To read the complete article, visit

Related stories from Idaho Statesman