Aides to Perry, who allowed Willingham's execution to go forward, started off with general questions about how things were going at the commission, a relatively new agency, Bassett said. But then they started asking about Willingham, questioning whether the commission's review of the evidence in his case was beyond its legal powers.
"As soon as we started discussing the Willingham investigation, the meeting got more confrontational and more difficult," Bassett said.
About six months later, Bassett's term on the commission was up -- and despite letters from members urging his reappointment, Perry replaced him and three other appointees. The move came at what Bassett calls a "critical point," two days before the commission was to hear from an expert who had delivered a scathing report on the Willingham case.
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