The entire story can be read at:

Read earlier  Times-Union story on the beginning of the new trial at the link below:

"A 50-year-old man convicted three decades ago of setting a fire that killed two teenage girls while they slept went back on trial Monday to face new tactics and new witnesses. Rensselaer County State Supreme Court Justice Andrew Ceresia is hearing a bench trial for defendant Richard J. Wright, who is once again charged with four counts of second-degree murder — two for each of the victims — and a single count of first-degree arson. In October, Ceresia vacated Wright’s 1988 conviction on those five charges in response to defense filings that cited new technology debunking the methods of the original investigators who determined the Sept. 1, 1986, fire was started with an accellerant, even though no traces of such a substance had been found. The prosecution will once again count on crucial testimony from a burglar who made a deal with authorities, while the defense turns to advancements in arson investigation science as they argue for acquittal. Special Prosecutor Jasper Mills outlined a case Monday that pointed to a broken bottle as the source of the gasoline he claimed was used to start the fire, and emphasized that Wright told Martin “Danny” Williams III that he started the blaze but didn’t intend for Meredith Pipino, 13, and Tara Gilbert, 14, to die as flames consumed the rear of 17 108th St. in Troy's Lansingburgh neighborhood. “This is about two girls,” Mills said. In his opening statement, Mills spoke about how Wright was at the fire scene. He didn’t emphasize the details of the arson investigation — evidence that was attacked by defense attorney Michael P. McDermott. “The status of fire investigation and fire science back in 1986 was no way like it is today,” McDermott said. Williams is expected to travel from Colorado to testify about what he claims Wright told him two weeks after the fire when they were smoking crack cocaine together.
Williams made a deal to testify for the prosecution at the 1988 trial after he was arrested in January 1987 in Cohoes.  Williams also gave the Troy police information that solved 28 burglaries in exchange for a deal that sent him to prison for 3 to 9 years on a burglary conviction in Albany County. McDermott said Monday that Williams "was trading a new life for himself ... on the back of an innocent man, on the back of Richard Wright." Wright testified in his defense 30 years ago that he had never spoken to Williams, and that he was watching television at home when the fire occurred.
Both Mills and McDermott had arson experts on hand to assist them as the trial moved through its first day. Mills called Barbara Gilbert, the mother of Tara, as his first witness. Her 30-year-old testimony was read into the record, echoing with the description of how her daughter ran back into her burning bedroom in the second-floor apartment to save her friend Meredith. Two new witnesses — neither of whom took the stand in 1988 — immediately followed: Lisa Deerfield, who lived in the first-floor apartment at the demolished home, and James Gerst, who lived next door at the time of the fire. Deerfield and Gerst recounted that there appeared to be no electrical or mechanical problems in the two buildings. They also testified that there was no garbage or other debris at the rear of the buildings. Deerfield, however, said there were no smoke detectors in the apartments. “It was very bright and there were a lot of flames,” Deerfield said about the night her home burst into flames. She recalled fleeing out the front door. Both attorneys showed diagrams of 17 108th St. to Gerst. Ceresia plans to visit the site of the fire during the trial. Gerilyn Kantyr, Meredith's mother, said she had given her daughter permission to stay at the Gilberts’ apartment after returning from an amusement park. She said Meredith had to get home in time to deliver her Times Union paper route the next morning. During the night, Kantyr said she was awakened by fire sirens. She later learned they were from fire trucks rushing to the home where her daughter had died."

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: 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;