"A state Supreme Court justice on Monday vacated the 1988 murder conviction of Richard J. Wright, who was found guilty that year of setting a house fire that killed two teenage girls in Troy. The decision by Justice Andrew Ceresia was based on questions raised by an attorney hired by Wright's family who discovered serious flaws in the work of the arson investigators who concluded the blaze was deliberately set. The attorney, Michael P. McDermott, filed a motion to reopen the case and overturn the conviction based on what he said is new scientific technology that debunked the methods of the original investigators who determined the fire was started with an accellerant, even though no traces of an accellerant were found. Ceresia's ruling allows prosecutors to seek a new trial for Wright, 49, who was immediately remanded to Rensselaer County jail without bail Monday pending additional action in the case. However, it's unclear whether Wright will face a second trial. Rensselaer County District Attorney, who did  not oppose the motion to set aside the verdict, declined comment Monday. Wright was serving a sentence of 25 years to life in prison at Marcy Correctional Facility and his requests for parole had been rejected.........Wright's mother and sister, both named Linda, said they were happy with Ceresia's ruling, which happened coincidentally on International Wrongful Conviction Day. The Court of Appeal, New York's highest court, declined to overturn his conviction in 1995.........Wright has always maintained his innocence. His conviction was based largely on the testimony of a felon named Martin ''Danny'' Williams III, who had 28 burglary charges reduced to a trespassing case in exchange for testifying against Wright as a government witness. Williams testified that Wright confessed to the arson two weeks after the fire, while he and Wright were smoking cocaine. During the trial, Wright testified in his defense and said he did not set the fire. He also said he never spoke to Williams and that he was watching television at home when the fire occurred. "I would like the court to know I'm innocent," Wright said to the judge during his 1988 sentencing. It was one of the first trials in Rensselaer County and the Capital Region in which cameras were allowed in the courtroom. In court Monday, McDermott said he was prepared to call John J. Lentini of Scientific Fire Analysis, LLC of Florida, and Jason Karasinski of Fire Research and Technology near Rochester to testify as expert witnesses about the failings of the arson evidence presented during Wright’s 1988 trial. McDermott said his motion to set aside the verdict challenged the validity of the investigators' conclusion that, even though they couldn't find an accellerant, the burn patterns indicated one was used. McDermott said new technology has shown that the burn patterns cited in the earlier investigation can no longer be used to conclude an accellerant was used to start a fire. "Had jury at the time been informed of the true interpretations of the evidence, based on current fire science, they would not have been able to classify the fire as an arson," McDermott said. Wright’s family went to McDermott about seven years ago seeking his help. He is a former chief assistant district attorney in Albany County and handled arson cases as a prosecutor.“Richard has been sitting in jail for 30 years waiting to be cleared,” McDermott said. “Subsequent research and testing has proven that would the evidence was wrong and not to be trusted.”"

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. 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: http://www.thestar.com/topic/charlessmith. Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at: http://smithforensic.blogspot.com/2011/05/charles-smith-blog-award-nominations.html Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.