Gov. Rick Perry's hatchet has fallen once again on what was a little-known state commission created to ensure the credibility of forensic science used in criminal investigations.
The governor has now replaced all four of his appointees, including the chairman, to the nine-member Texas Forensic Science Commission. His actions came as the commission was investigating its highest-profile case, involving the possibility that an innocent man was executed in 2004.
Because of the reshuffling of members, an Oct. 2 meeting of the commission, at which it planned to hear from an arson expert, was indefinitely postponed.
The out-of-state expert had prepared a report that said the forensic evidence in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, accused of murdering his three daughters in a fire, was faulty and that the blaze that killed the children was not a result of arson.
Just two days before the scheduled meeting, the governor began his purge, informing three members that their services were no longer needed. Last week he dismissed his fourth appointee, leaving many to wonder if his sudden moves were politically motivated because he had signed off on the Willingham execution five years ago -- and he has a tough primary race coming up in March.
Perry has said that all the dismissals were routine, as each member’s term had expired. Although he had been encouraged by others not to make changes at this juncture, the governor saw the need to move swiftly in replacing members.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.