When two Austin filmmakers set out to chronicle the flawed forensics behind the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, they found themselves in the middle of a pitched political battle, pitting criminal justice activists against the a Texas governor (Rick Perry) looking to sweep news of a wrongful execution under the rug. Joe Bailey and Steve Mims chat with MoJo about their new documentary, Incendiary.
"Ballistics evidence used to convict Davis has since been debunked. Another witness has since emerged as a plausible suspect in the murder. Three jurors on the case now say that if they knew then what they know now, they would not have voted to convict. Davis was quite possibly innocent, but that was hardly the point. As expressed by the popular Twitter hash-tag, the problem was quite simply that there was #TooMuchDoubt."
Texas’ Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice, Don Clemmer, later testified that his office didn’t have the resources to investigate allegations of sexual abuse at a TYC facility in Ward County because at the time the local agent was busy investigating charges of voter fraud by a 68-year-old Hispanic woman.
The allegations were explosive when they first hit in 2007: A 20-year-old woman named Jamie Leigh Jones alleged that four days after going to work in Iraq for contracting giant KBR in July 2005, she was drugged and gang-raped by fellow contractors. She accused the company, then a subsidiary of Halliburton, of imprisoning her in a shipping container after she reported the rape, and suggested KBR had tampered with some of the medical evidence that had been collected at an Army hospital. The harrowing story has made international headlines. It’s been the subject of congressional hearings and has inspired legislation. Jones even plays a starring role in the new documentary Hot Coffee, about efforts to limit access to the justice system.
Jones’ charges fell on fertile ground, compounding KBR’s reputation as a corporate scofflaw—all the more so when it came out that the firm’s contract had included a mandatory arbitration clause intended to block employees from suing it. Jones spent years fighting for a jury trial, and now, six years after the alleged attack, she is finally getting her day in court in a civil suit that accuses KBR of knowingly sending her into a hostile workplace. The verdict could come as early as Thursday. And—in a twist that’s likely to shock her numerous supporters—there’s a good chance she will lose.