I don't say that very often, especially not about an article that's seventeen pages long--and those are New Yorker pages, not NY Times pages, but this is important. (Speaking of the NY Times, Frank Herbert mentioned this story in his column.) This is the story of Cameron Todd Willingham, almost certainly executed by the state of Texas for a crime he did not commit. Herbert tried to give a synopsis of the story and failed--not his fault, really, since the story really requires the length that The New Yorker and reporter David Grann put into it. You really have to read the whole thing, and then plan to be haunted by it, especially if you still support the death penalty as it is currently imposed.
I'm only going to quote one very small part of the story, and it doesn't actually have anything directly to do with this case, but it is relevant all the same.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in 2006, voted with a majority to uphold the death penalty in a Kansas case. In his opinion, Scalia declared that, in the modern judicial system, there has not been “a single case—not one—in which it is clear that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit. If such an event had occurred in recent years, we would not have to hunt for it; the innocent’s name would be shouted from the rooftops.”Justice Scalia, here's one case, and as much as you deny it, there have been others. You demand a level of certainty in the claim of innocence that you do not demand from a jury passing the sentence and hide behind convenient excuses--that a person who has had "fair trials" and has been found guilty in courts which have determined that there were no errors in process can still be executed because he is "legally guilty" even if he is not factually guilty--to justify your position. I suspect that you are hearing echoes of the names of those who have been wrongly executed.