Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bulletin: George Souliotes: Judge finds actual innocence in fatal 1997 arson case. Stresses urgency; But 72-year old remains behind bars. L.A. Times

STORY: "Inmate was innocent in fatal arson case, judge rules: Scientists have discredited evidence used to convoct the Modesto landlord of sparking the 1997 blaze that killed three tenants. But the finding will not necessarily free him," by reporter Maura Dolan, published in the Los Angeles on July 7, 2012.

GIST: A federal judge has ruled that a Modesto man convicted of setting a fire that killed his tenant and her two children has shown "actual innocence" and may now challenge his conviction on other grounds. Chief U.S. District Judge Anthony W. Ishii upheld the findings of a magistrate who examined the evidence against George Souliotes, 72, and concluded that no reasonable juror would have convicted him given the state of the evidence today. But the court's finding will not necessarily free Souliotes, convicted of setting a 1997 fire in a rental home he owned. His lawyers missed a legal filing deadline, and under the law, Souliotes had to prove his innocence before he could appeal his conviction on other grounds, including inadequate legal representation at trial. In determining actual innocence, the judge considered both old and new evidence, regardless of its admissibility at trial. His decision was based on whether he believed it was "more likely than not" that a reasonable juror with that information would have found the inmate guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Ishii said in his ruling that the appeal should now proceed quickly. Citing Souliotes' age, Ishii said the innocence determination "only heightens" the urgency required. Fire scientists have discredited evidence that was used to convict Souliotes, and the state has conceded that it no longer can prove that the deadly 1997 blaze was deliberately set. Souliotes has been behind bars for 15 years."

The entire story can be found at:,0,2358185.story


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.