Texas’ debate over arson science is reignited

“… for every case that comes under scrutiny, someone has to acknowledge that mistakes have been made. That may not be popular.”

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports,

It wasn’t too difficult to convince a jury that Garland Leon “Butch” Martin of Midland was a wife abuser and a baby killer.

The day in 1998 that his common-law wife, Marcia Pool, threatened to leave him because of abuse, their house went up in flames, killing Pool and their 20-month-old daughter. Martin, who was not at home, was convicted of arson and is serving three concurrent life sentences.

But now, modern science may impugn the jury’s decision. Martin’s conviction is one that some believe was based at least in part on “junk” science.

A number of forensic scientists and others are calling for additional reviews of arson-murder cases like Martin’s because evidence was analyzed by methods now called into question or proved wrong…

Another obstacle to such a comprehensive review is that criminal defense attorneys don’t have the time to review such cases, either. And if they did, it would be very costly, they say.

Plus, for every case that comes under scrutiny, someone has to acknowledge that mistakes have been made. That may not be popular.

“Everybody’s got a dog in the hunt,” said Gerald L. Hurst, a Cambridge-educated chemist and arson expert in Austin who is examining Martin’s case…

Read the entire Star-Telegram article.

3 thoughts on “Texas’ debate over arson science is reignited”

  1. Frontline did a case where the fellow was executed for an arson which was proven false. But once a Jury in Texas gives out a death sentence, no politician will overturn it. This included the current Governor Perry. While he is standing up to EPA in their Junkscience, he seems to not recognize junkscience that may take into question the Texas justice system.

  2. Perry is a very religious guy and seems unable to process rational, as apposed to faith based, arguments. George W. Bush was that way. When the Aluminum tubes were determined to
    be the wrong length, the wrong diameter, and have a treatment incapable with centrifuges, he and Ms. Rice continued to cite the Aluminum tubes as proof of Iraq’s nuclear program. And then there are the reporters!

  3. We are talking about people who may have been wrongfully robbed of their lives by the justice system.

    Do the review. Hang the expense. If they are innocent, free them immediately and without question.

    To do otherwise is a mockery of justice.

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