ARLINGTON — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Schieffer said Tuesday that he still supports the death penalty but believes that the process needs more scrutiny.
His comments came after former Gov. Mark White raised questions about whether capital punishment should be ended in Texas.
Schieffer said he is concerned about the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who maintained his innocence and was executed in 2004 after being convicted of setting fire to his Corsicana home, killing his three daughters. Gov. Rick Perry has drawn national criticism for not issuing a temporary stay for Willingham to address questions raised by an arson authority and for recently replacing members of a state commission that was looking into the science used in that investigation.
"We need to get to the bottom of it," Schieffer said after giving a speech to directors of the Texas Soil and Water Conservation Districts. "If an innocent man was executed, we need to do something about it."
"This is a very troubling situation," he said.
White said this week that he no longer believes the death penalty will prevent murder and that the state should look at replacing executions with life in prison without parole.
A fellow Democratic candidate, East Texas rancher Hank Gilbert, also still supports the death penalty.
"However, with today's advanced technology, we must ensure that those accused of capital crimes are afforded access to the best forensic tools available to ensure no innocent person is unfairly convicted," he said.
And Democratic candidate Kinky Friedman said during his 2006 campaign that he "is not anti-death-penalty, but he is 'anti-the-wrong-guy-getting-executed.' "
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