Friday, April 25, 2014

James E. Hugney Sr: Forensic blogger Justin J. McShane asks whether an innocent man has been locked up for 35 years for an arson that never happened? The truth about forensic science.

POST: "The burning bed - Has an innocent man been locked up for 35 years for an arson that never happened?" by Justin J. McShane, published on his feisty hard-hitting blog, "The truth about forensic science" on April 2, 2014.

GIST: In 1978, a 36-year old businessman who owned his own used car lot, and who had no meaningful prior record, was accused of setting fire to his house on purpose with his teenage son inside of it. His son died of his burns a few days later from this fire. From the very beginning, James E. Hugney, Sr. has maintained his innocence. He told the investigators in 1978 that he had nothing to do with it. He declared it at trial in 1979. In July 1979, he declared again at the time of his sentencing of Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). He pursued an appeal where he asserted legal error and factual innocence. He said so again during his post-conviction proceedings in 1984-1985. He most recently did so proudly in 2013 as an old man in a wheelchair in deteriorating health before the Honorable Scott A. Evans seeking to have the science reviewed in his case.........Did a 1978 Dauphin County jury wrongly convict James E. Hugney Sr of felony murder involving an arson that was not an arson and based on bad science? This is the essential issue that now is squarely before the Honorable Scott A Evans of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas. This case presents a rather unique question of how do we in 2014 judge the forensic science in a case from 1978. There has been a remarkable change in fire and fire debris investigation since 1978. Empirical testing and the development of standards of investigation have championed a new age in what had been a science that had little empirical science in it."

The entire story can be found at: 


Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
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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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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;