Trial by Fire

Topics: Rick Perry, Capital punishment, Cameron Todd Willingham Pages: 1 (725 words) Published: November 6, 2014

In David Grann’s “Trial by Fire,” Grann retells the story of a man’s life on death row. The man, Cameron Todd Willingham, was tried and convicted for arson and murdering his children. This article as a whole is meant to call into question that there was a possibility of Willingham’s innocence, that he might have been wrongly accused. At the end of the article there is a particular passage from the final day of Willingham’s life in which Grann uses repetition and emotional language to suggest that the death sentence is inaccurate. Grann also uses direct quotes from people involved in the case to reveal that because of innate bias, Willingham was considered guilty before the case even started. This reiterates the article’s larger purpose that a man might have been incorrectly punished for a crime. At the start of the passage, Grann states the meal that Willingham wanted before he was executed. He writes, “Willingham had requested a final meal, and at 4 P.M. on the seventeenth he was served it: three barbecued pork ribs, two orders of onion rings, fried okra, three beef enchiladas with cheese, and two slices of lemon cream pie” (Grann). Grann uses the word “final” to portray that this is the last day that Willingham has to live. Reciting his final meal, we can assume that Willingham planned out his last meal with all of his favorite foods. Grann follows this with “He received word that Governor Perry had refused to grant him a stay” (Grann). This is important because the next sentence says how the Governor made this judgment based on the case’s evidence. With this, Grann is proposing that the Governor made his decision based off a one-sided argument because the only facts in the court were against Willingham. The evidence of Willingham’s innocence was never counted in court and this alone gives a chance that this man could have been acquitted. Directly after these two quotations, Grann writes: “Willingham’s mother and father began to cry. ‘Don’t be sad, Momma,’...
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