Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ed Graf. Experts to testify in his arson murder case from the 1980's. Hearing scheduled for January 11, 2013. Waco Tribune.

STORY: "Experts to testify in Ed Graf arson case from 1980's," by Cindy V. Culp, published in the Waco Tribune on December 23, 2012.

GIST: "Two of the nation’s leading fire science experts are scheduled to come to Waco next month for a hearing that will help decide the fate of a Hewitt man who claims he was wrongfully convicted of arson murder. But the hearing could have implications far beyond Ed Graf’s case, said Jeff Blackburn, chief counsel for the Innocence Project of Texas. He said the state’s criminal justice system is starting to come to terms with the idea that junk science contributed to a number of wrongful convictions in recent decades. But the state’s highest criminal court has not yet developed a uniform and fair way of handling such injustice, he said.  Ed Graf’s hearing will be held Jan. 11.  Graf was found guilty of murdering his stepsons by locking them in a shed and setting it on fire........ One of the witnesses will be toxicology expert Douglas J. Carpenter, who determined the blaze could have resulted only from an accidental fire. A blaze intentionally set and aided by an accelerant would have quickly produced flames so intense the victims would have died before breathing in that much carbon monoxide, he said. Graf’s attorneys also plan to put an expert named Paul Bieber on the stand. He is the director of the Arson Research Project, which is housed at a California law school. It conducted a controlled experiment last year that used high-tech equipment to record the progress of fires set in furnished “burn cells,” both with and without accelerants. It found visual examination of burn patterns is unreliable to determine whether accelerants were involved. The hearing will be conducted by retired Judge George Allen, who presided over Waco’s 54th State District Court when Graf was convicted. After hearing the evidence, he will make a recommendation about the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The options include a recommendation that Graf remain in prison, be given a new trial or be found not guilty. The appellate court will make the final decision about Graf’s fate. If it orders a new trial, Reaves said he thinks the case will be dismissed. “I don’t think they could retry it,” Reaves said. “I don’t think there is any evidence that proves arson.”"

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