Texas Man to Get Retrial Due to Faulty Fire Science

A Texas court reversed Ed Graf’s murder and arson convictions this week after experts determined that the science used to convict Graf was likely faulty. While the court declined to issue a finding of actual innocence, it did say, “False expert testimony at [Graf’s] trial violated his due process rights.”

Graf has been serving a life sentence for the deaths of his two stepsons in a backyard shed fire in 1986. The original investigation determined that the fire was arson based on charring patterns that suggested a quick fire using an accelerant. However, experts now say that the fire could have been accidental and the charring patterns could be the result of a “flashover,” which occurs when a fire escalates to the point engulfing the whole room. “Flashovers” leave similar burn patterns as fires using accelerant. The experts also found a high amount of carbon monoxide in the boys lungs which suggests a slower burning fire.

Graf’s case was one of several flagged for reinvestigation by the new state panel due to the recent advances and changes in understandings in fire science. The panel of six experts is a joint effort between the Innocence Project of Texas and the State Fire Marshall Chris Connealy. They begin reviewing cases next month.

Prosecutors will likely elect to retry Graf who they claim was acting suspiciously before and after the fire.

Read more here.

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