Sum it Up! #40

grass lawn cut into a maze like puzzle patternSum it Up! #40

There are a few cases that I am watching:

The Italian Supreme Court heard arguments today re Amanda Knox. The story on CNN is here. The issue of extradition will most likely fail since the US Constitution prohibits that someone faces another prosecution on substantially the same charges (double jeopardy).

Note that “double jeopardy protects defendants only for retrials brought within the original jurisdiction, which is why a defendant can be tried in federal court after being tried in state court. Double jeopardy does not prevent trial in a civil court on underlying facts that previously formed the basis of a criminal trial.” In other words, Knox might still face another trial in civil court. A decision by the Italian Supreme Court is expected as I type!

UPDATE: the ruling is delayed till Tuesday 10am.

In the world of forensic arson detection, the case to watch right now concerns Ed Graf who was sentenced to life in prison 25 years ago for killing his two stepsons by locking them in a backyard shed and setting it on fire. As with Willingham, the assumption was that the fire that broke out was intentional e.g. arson. But now, with modern technology and a better understanding of flashover, it might have been an accidental fire.

As I described in my post In my humble opinionAmong other things, modern forensic arson detection established mistakes centered on puddle configurations, pour patterns, burn trailer, and V-shaped burning marks. At the time of the trial, V-shaped burn marks were taken as sole indication for the point of origin of the fire. However, modern arson forensics has established that V-shaped burn marks occur repeatedly during post flashover.

Flashover occurs when radiant heat causes fire in a room to be a room on fire; it can happen within minutes without liquid accelerant. The then-held beliefs about flashover were wrong. After everything in the Willingham room ignited, post flashover occurred when the blaze went from a fuel-controlled fire to a ventilation-controlled fire. As Willingham opened a door, the fire followed the path of a new source of oxygen, leaving a trail to that door. This trail was mistakenly believed to be caused by a liquid accelerant.” You can find more information about this case here.

Alabama charged James Michael Hayes in the 1978 capital murder of Teresa Carol White. “White, 18, was found dead on April 20, 1978, in wooded area near Lake Nicol Dam. The cause of death was determined to be strangulation by ligature. Her parents made a missing person report on April 15 after White did not show up for work. Investigators found that White had left the Supermarket Lounge, just west of Greensboro Avenue at Jug Factory Road, around 1:30 a.m. Hayes, who was also a suspect in three other recent cases that involved strangulation of women, was a suspect early in the investigation.”

I am also following the disappearance of John Glasgow, a puzzling mystery. If you have any updates/links, I’d appreciate it. “Five years later, the only person who has ever publicly claimed knowledge of John Glasgow’s fate is working as a prison barber and hoping for early release for two unrelated felonies. Glasgow, 45 at the time he went missing, was CFO of CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock, which was then half-owned and is now wholly owned by Dillard’s Inc. He was legally declared dead almost two years ago, and his widow hopes to find out what happened to him but isn’t holding her breath.”

Last but not least, Jacques has started answering the questions collected during the last crimechat. We will be posting (part of) his answers soon.

Cheers, V