It was almost Christmas, a time of hardship for the poor.  Stacy had gone to work and Cameron had given his daughters bottles and gone back to doze in bed. It was cold and there was no point to getting up yet.

 The fire alarm screeched into his dreams. Cameron woke, his eyes burning in the acrid smoke.  It took him a moment to work out what was going on. A fire was raging in the house and Cameron ran out of the bedroom. The heat pushed him into the passage and before he realised, he was outside.

 ‘The girls!’ screamed Cameron, trying to go back into the house. The heat of the fire was like a wall against his body; the heat impenetrable.

 He tried again and again to go back into the house before collapsing on the grass. Crouching on the lawn, against a bush, he watched in incomprehension as his house burnt to the ground, carrying his three little girls with it.

 The fire trucks arrived at some stage; when exactly was unclear to Cameron. Through the smoke and floating soot he noticed the fire fighters kicking the charcoal and fire lighter liquid over as they rushed into the smoking house. Randomly he thought about how much charcoal there would be now as he watched, in a distracted way, a ceiling beam collapse and fall into the living room.

 His daughters were dead and life seemed a strange and dark place; one in which understanding was difficult to find and sense impossible to grasp. His babies, 2 year old Amber and the one year old twins were dead before they had had a chance to live. Life was a horrible prospect. Numb and unable to process the information, Cameron reverted to his true character – he got angry and aggressive. He also focused on the things he could save, rescuing his car from the garage.

 His apparent lack of emotion immediately after the fire would determine the rest of his life.

 

 *****

 

 The fire was investigated, Three little girls had died; it had to be. He understood that and supported it. He too wanted to know how and why. The fire investigated was green and eager to prove himself. The melted firelighter liquid container on the verandah was a cause of great excitement. When he found trails of lighter fluid in the passage way and snaking up to the girls’ bedroom doors he declared the fire arson.

  His delight at his own skill was confirmed when Cameron was convicted of arson and the murder of his daughters.

  Cameron was divorced by his wife after the conviction and sent to death row.

  With death inevitable, Cameron continued to proclaim his innocence. During the trial he knew he was facing the death sentence if found guilty and was offered a plea bargain. He declined it, again stating his innocence

 

 *****

 

17 February 2004

 ‘It’s a beautiful day……. crisp and bright, the air sharp and fragrant. A layer of snow on the ground makes everything seem clean and new and containing infinite possibilities. For me today is the final possibility. I know that in a room at the back of the prison, a table and a series of syringes await me. And there is nothing I can do about it.

They asked me for a final statement. Why? Are they suddenly going to listen? Have they listened once in the 12 years?

But now they want me to speak. Fuck them. Fuck them all to hell’

 

 *****

  On February 17, 2004, Cameron Willingham was executed after his conviction 12 years earlier for the arson of his house and subsequent death of his three daughters. He proclaimed his innocent right up to and included his final statement.

  ‘Fire investigator Gerald L. Hurst reviewed the case documents including the trial transcriptions and an hour-long videotape of the aftermath of the fire scene. Hurst said, “There’s nothing to suggest to any reasonable arson investigator that this was an arson fire. It was just a fire.” ‘

   i have fictionalised how things happened but not, essentially, what happened. the final paragraph is a cut and paste from wiki.

 

another ‘victory’ for the death sentence!

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