Monday, June 25, 2012

David Gavitt: Arson; University of Michigan Law School Innocence Clinic lawyer describes "modern science" that freed him. Ann'

STORY: "How University of Michigan helped free imprisoned man falsely convicted of killing his family," by Lucy Anne Lance, published by Ann on June 23, 2012.

GIST: "The arson investigation showed burn patterns inside the house appeared to indicate arson, but modern fire science now disproves that. A fire science expert told the clinic it was caused by a flashover, which occurs when toxic gases burst into flames in a closed room. It also has been determined that a Michigan State lab technician botched a test that he said showed there was gasoline on the carpeting. David Moran: Co-director of the University of Michigan Law School's Innocence clinic. "The fire examiners at the time concluded that this fire had been intentionally set in the living room, even though there were obvious sources of ignition in the living room - the candles lit, cigarettes burning in the ashtray and a large dog to knock them over. No motive in this case. This was a happily married couple. No life insurance. But just based on this forensic evidence at the time, he was convicted and sentenced to three counts of first degree murder to life in prison without parole." Lucy Ann Lance; Interviewer; "Technology has changed and you were able to determine what actually happened." Moran: Our students, especially Max Kosman, Imran Syed and Caitlin Plummer, developed this case and we sent it out to the experts to say, with all of these photographs of the scene, would you call this arson today? The answer was no, this was more likely to be an accidental fire. Remember those gas chromatographs that supposedly show gasoline on the carpet? We got those original gas chromatograph charts from the Michigan State Police and we sent them to the top gas chromatograph people in the country. They told us that there was absolutely no gasoline in any of these seventeen charts. We presented all of this information to Ionia County prosecutor Ron Schafer last summer 2011 and said here’s everything we have, we want you to take a look at it, and to his great credit he was willing to do that."

The entire story can be found at:


I am monitoring this case. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.

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:

Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:

Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.