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Arson convictions challenged over fire science

GATESVILLE, Texas (AP) - Authorities in Texas and several other states are beginning to re-examine old arson cases in which defendants may have been convicted with questionable scientific evidence.

Before 1992, when national fire investigation standards were developed, arson investigators did not always use uniform methods. Also, scientific advances in recent years have raised questions about how experts have analyzed burn patterns.

Experts convened by the Texas fire marshal's office, and with the help of the state Innocence Project, will soon begin examining six cases that might contain flaws. They include the case of a man convicted in 1988 of killing his two stepsons by locking them in a shed and setting fire to it. Arson analysts now say the evidence of burn patterns used against him may not have been reliable.


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