Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Daniel Dougherty; Philadelphia Inquirer story shows how advances in fire science are casting doubt on arson-murder cases. (Reference to Cameron Todd Willingham and Han Tak Lee cases); (Must Read. HL);

 STORY: "Advances in fire science cast doubt on arson murder cases," by reporter Jeff Gammage, published by the Philadelphia Inquirer on October 8, 2014.

GIST:  "When Daniel Dougherty heard the news, he had one question for his lawyers: When do I get out? They couldn't give him an answer. But now, after 14 years in prison for the arson murder of his two young sons - a crime he swears he did not commit - he's to get a new trial. The state Supreme Court denied a commonwealth appeal and let stand a lower court's order for a retrial.........The old case holds fresh national implications, a prime example of the evolving fire science that has freed some inmates and brought the guilt of others into question. Today, scientists dismiss many of what once had been considered classic signs of arson, fueling a debate over how the justice system should handle convictions based on now-discarded beliefs........ Dougherty's case draws comparisons to that of Cameron Todd Willingham, executed in Texas in 2004 for killing his three daughters by setting the family home ablaze. Five years later, an expert hired by the Texas Forensic Science Commission called the arson finding doubtful.
In August, in Pennsylvania, a federal judge threw out the arson-murder conviction of a man who has served 24 years for killing his daughter. Han Tak Lee, now 79, maintains his innocence in the 1989 Pocono Mountains fire that killed Ji Yun Lee, 20. U.S. District Judge William Nealon vacated the conviction and life sentence, ordering that Lee be freed if a new trial is not held within 120 days. Lee is out on bail.........Over the last 20 years scientific studies have deflated what once were considered solid indicators of arson. For instance, burn patterns on a floor were once viewed as evidence of an accelerant. Investigators now know those marks are common when a room is engulfed, even in an accidental fire. Dougherty has always insisted he was asleep on the living-room couch, his children in their second-floor bedroom, when he awoke to see the curtains on fire and ran outside. He tried to reach the boys but was forced back by heavy smoke and flames. Now, his lawyers say, two experts are prepared to testify that the prosecution finding of arson can no longer be supported. "We're hopeful the commonwealth will do what in our mind is the right thing," Fryman said, "which is to recognize the consensus among the fire-science community.""

The entire story an be found at:


Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
I have added a search box for content in this blog which now encompasses several thousand posts. The search box is located  near the bottom of the screen just above the list of links. I am confident that this powerful search tool provided by "Blogger" will help our readers and myself get more out of the site.

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:
I look forward to hearing from readers at:

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog;