March 28, 2013

Texas arson pseudoscience called out again

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did not set him free, but Waco-area resident Henry Graf will be getting a new trial, if the state chooses to retry him again.

In a ruling released Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said Edward Graf deserves a new trial because the scientific testimony used to convict him of arson murder has been proved false. But the court refused to find Graf actually innocent, as Graf’s attorney 
The ruling places the case back in the hands of McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna. If he chooses not to re-try Graf, the 60-year-old would automatically be released. He has been serving a life sentence at a prison in nearby Gatesville since his 1988 conviction.
How many cases will it take before CCA does the smart thing, the legally, logically and scientifically  correct thing, and starts not just vacating the original cases, but finding the defendants innocent, at least in cases where their original convictions was largely based on arson pseudoscience?

I mean, in Graf's case, the whole original trial was a piece of shite:
At Graf’s original trial, 
prosecutors alleged he somehow knocked out 8-year-old Jason Graf and 9-year-old Joby Graf, then carried them to a backyard storage shed before setting it on fire with the help of gasoline.

But prosecutors provided no evidence Edward Graf rendered the boys unconscious and the expert testimony about the fire was based on “arson indicators” that have since been declared bogus.

All the indicators prove, research has shown, is that a fire occurred. They can’t reveal whether it was an accident or intentionally set.

All five experts who newly reviewed the case agree such indicators were incorrectly used in the Graf case. They also questioned other parts of the prosecution’s theory.

For example, several of the experts said the door to the shed could not have been closed. If it was, the fire would not have grown to the point where it consumed the entire structure, because of a lack of oxygen, they said.

One defense expert went as far as to rule out the possibility the fire was intentionally set with an accelerant. Such a fire would have quickly generated intense flames, killing the boys before they could have inhaled the amount of carbon monoxide found in their blood, he said.
The CCA had plenty of room beyond the arson pseudoscience to not just throw out the original verdict but have Graf walk.

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