Thursday, August 29, 2013

Catch-up from seasonal break: Ed Graf. Texas. Arson "science" case. No new trial until next year. He remains in jail in spite of compelling evidence accepted by court that modern forensic techniques could prove he did not cause the fatal fire. KWTX.

STORY: "Waco: Man who won new trial wont get it until next year," by reporter John Carroll, published by KWTX on August 26, 2013.

GIST:  "A new trial ordered for a suburban Waco man once convicted of capital murder in the fiery deaths of his two sons won’t be held until next February. Ed Graf served 25 years of a life prison sentence for the deaths of his adopted sons Jason, 8 and Joby, 9, before the Texas Court of Appeals threw out his capital murder conviction in March, citing faulty arson science. The court agreed that modern forensic techniques could prove he didn't start the Aug. 26, 1986 fire in a shed in the backyard of the family’s home in Hewitt that killed his two adopted sons. His attorney, Walter Reaves confirmed Monday that Graf is set for trial in February 2013, but it’s possible it may not begin until later next year. The date was set during a closed-door meeting Friday between Reaves, prosecutors and the judge, Reaves said. Graf remains in the McLennan County Jail in lieu of $1.5 million bond awaiting retrial. Reaves said Monday he’s surprised Graf is still behind bars and said his client is, too.
“I think he's just having a hard time understanding why he's still in jail and why even he has to go through a trial in the first place,” he said."

The entire story can be found at:

See informative story: "Forensics in flames," by Michael May. "Carpenter testified at a hearing of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. They overturned Ed Graf’s conviction; he will be getting a new trial. Graf represents only one of a small handful of cases across the country that are getting a new look, although flawed arson science was used in other case, possibly hundreds of cases. “The question becomes, sort of how far does the consensus have to have shifted in order to indicate that you have new evidence of innocence?” University of Texas Law Professor Jennifer Laurin says. “What if the individual expert who testified at trial maintains their view about the state of the science, even while all the other experts in the world have changed their minds? Well, would all of those other experts make a difference in the jury’s assessment of the evidence? These are the kind of reverse engineering of the jury’s decision that defendants have to do. It’s very, very difficult to prevail.” Defendants have to prove that a jury never would have convicted them without the faulty scientific testimony. That is a high hurdle to clear, and that could explain why prosecutors have decided to retry Ed Graf rather than just letting him go. On the one hand, the original scientific evidence has been completely discredited, and the defense will bring in a national expert who can talk in detail about carbon monoxide hemoglobin levels and localized flashover, and who will show how the fire likely was an accident. On the other hand, prosecutors have a still‐grieving mother convinced her ex‐husband is a cold‐blooded killer. As with the first trial of Ed Graf, the jury will not be scientific experts themselves. They will ultimately have to decide who to believe.

 See also: "How sloppy fire science sends innocents to prison," by Paul Bieber: "Late last month, the independent Texas fire review panel convened by the State Fire Marshal’s Office concluded that the original determination of arson by Texas fire investigators in the case of Ed Graf was mistaken.  Speaking of the Graf case, Texas State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy said the original investigators “failed to meet the present day standard of care.”  The (George) Souliotes and Graf cases represent far more than simply not meeting a basic standard of care. They represent a nationwide travesty: accidental fires continue to be misidentified as arson leading to wrongful convictions and at least one execution."


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