Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kristine Bunch: Arson: Real arson "science" finally prevailed. Her case has been added to the National Registry of Exonerations. (Excellent account. HL);

POST: "Kristine Bunch" posted on the National Registry of exonerations on December 31, 2012. (A joint project of Michigan Law and Northwestern law.)

GIST: "Kristine Bunch, a client of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, languished behind bars for more than 17 years after she was arrested and charged with setting a fire that claimed the life of her three-year-old son, Anthony, on June 30, 1995, in a trailer home they shared in Decatur County, Indiana......... "Bunch’s family retained an Indianapolis attorney, Hilary Bowe Ricks, who filed a petition for post-conviction relief with Westhafer in 2006. A few months later, Betsy Marks, a supporter of Bunch’s, wrote the Center on Wrongful Convictions requesting assistance. Dan Tran, a CWC volunteer from Suffolk University Law School, read Betsy’s letter, saw immediately that Bunch’s innocence claim might have merit, and referred the request to CWC staff attorney Jane Raley.  After discussing the case with Hilary Ricks and reading the trial transcript, Raley approached three fire forensic experts — Jamie McAllister, John DeHaan, and John Malooly — who concurred in the view that the arson testimony presented by the prosecution at Bunch’s trial in all likelihood had been wrong. Raley and CWC staff counsel Karen Daniel agreed to join Ricks in representing Bunch. One of the first things they did was subpoena ATF files on the original investigation. In response, the ATF surrendered previously undisclosed documents showing that — contrary to the trial testimony of William Kinard, the ATF analyst — no heavy petroleum distillate had been found in the bedroom. No HPD, as it was known in ATF shorthand, was found anywhere in the trailer.  Kerosene had been found only in the living room, where there was an innocent explanation for its presence: The family had used a kerosene heater in the living room during winter months, and when filling it sometimes spilled kerosene on the floor. The critical sample in Tony’s bedroom was completely negative.  Because Kinard’s trial testimony that a liquid accelerant had been found in both the bedroom and living room left an inescapable impression that the fire had been set, the ATF documents were highly exculpatory. Yet they had been withheld from Bunch’s trial counsel in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1963 decision in Brady v. Maryland requiring prosecutors to turn over exculpatory materials to defense lawyers prior to trial."......... On August 8, 2012, the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously declined to disturb the Court of Appeals decision. Bunch, who had earned undergraduate degrees in English and anthropology from Ball State University in prison, was released on her own recognizance 24 days later — 17 years, one month, and 16 days after her wrongful arrest. She walked out of the Decatur County Jail, where she had been sent to await retrial, and into the arms of her family who had steadfastly supported her throughout her ordeal. Eight days before Christmas 2012, the prosecution dropped the charges."
The entire post can be found at:


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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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