Indiana house exdplosion update

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wrote:

Hint. A de-glassed light bulb makes a pretty good ignitor After a blast, who can tell if the bulb was broken before or by the blast??? And the lamp may have been connected to that same timer for 15 years previously - a totally legitimate application. The folks are not home - the light is on a timer.
What super CSI is going to figure that one out????
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Explain the missing evidence. And today's science is proving a lot of what "the law" "KNEW" is just not so.
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What's that got to do with the price of chicken milk in Omaha??
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wrote:

Accident reconstruction is more art than science in my experience. Lots of people think the debris leaves an unequivocal trail of clues that always points to the right culprit. Not so. Anyone recall the story of the California fire investigator/author/arsonist John Orr?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Leonard_Orr
<<His modus operandi was to set fires using an incendiary timing-device, usually comprising a lit cigarette, three matches wrapped in ruled yellow writing paper and secured by a rubber band, in stores while they were open and populated. He would set small fires often in the grassy hills, in order to draw firefighters, leaving fires set in more congested areas unattended.>>
-- Bobby G.
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

-snip-
I'd use my handy gas water heater.
Jim
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You have timer on your water heater? neat!
Set exdplosion for 3:30 AM?
Christopher A. Young Learn more about Jesus www.lds.org .

I'd use my handy gas water heater.
Jim
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Given the mild weather in Indy on that day, I would probably use the thermostat. I set it for something that may be higher than usual, but not unduly high. . It would have taken a while after the sun went down for the house to get cold enough to kick off the furnace and ignite the gas. The seat would be near the furnace and it would have been written off as a leak around the furnace.
--
America is at that awkward stage. It's too late
to work within the system, but too early to shoot
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It's questionable if the new high efficiency furnaces would even cause an explosion. The burner section in many of them is sealed and draws in combustion air from outside.
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<stuff snipped>

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"Breathtaking?" Either you are easily impressed or you watch too many shows on Lifetime. Please don't start to "giggle" like a geisha next. (-:

The comment was meant to illustrate that accident investigation theory is undergoing a profound change and that principles that had been accepted for decades are being cast aside. If there was any sort of fire, plastic melting could be a factor depending on what kind of ignition system was used.
If you followed the investigation of the San Bruno blast of the 30" high pressure main, you'd know that the forensics of gas explosions is undergoing change as well. It took quite some for experts to discover the possible causes of the failure and ongoing civil litigation reveals there's still doubt about whether it was a failed weld or corrosion (caused by impurities and condensation that pooled in an improperly sloped section of the pipe). As always, the potentially negligent parties deny any role in the explosion.
<< in a filing in San Mateo County Superior Court last Tuesday in response to more than 100 lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages, PG&E's lawyers took a more combative stance. The company said it should not be held liable for the disaster because "unforeseeable, intervening and/or superseding acts of persons or entities" other than PG&E caused the blast.>>
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/In-court-PG-E-deflects-blame-for-San-Bruno-blast-2355029.php
Civil litigation concerning these sorts of disasters serves to illustrate the rather wide range of opinion that accident investigators have because multiple litigants all have their own expert witnesses. In a criminal case, there's usually the state v. the defendant. In a big explosion, their may be 5 to 10 defendants and their experts will have slightly (or wildly) different theories as to the cause of the explosion.

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You were there? (-: In my experience the larger the crime scene, the harder it is to control. Whenever fire and rescue are involved searching the scene for possible survivors, a good attorney can cast doubt on any evidence found perhaps days later. Look at the Travon Martin shooting. Not a very well-secured crime scene and that's become a big issue in that case.
Accidental contamination of the crime scene is sadly the rule, not the exception. At least from what I've seen. Neighbors, EMT's, lookie-lous, etc. Remember, I'm talking about *good* lawyers. The odds are if this was an arson-for-profit crime the defendants don't have any money to pay a real attorney. Most likely they'll get a public defender with no budget to rebut the state's expert witnesses.

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Arsonists are inventive. In Boston, investigators were stumped for quite some time by a professional arsonist who used gasoline soaked rats in a cage that he lit on fire as he released them into a building he wanted to burn. Very, very little in the way of forensics because almost all abandoned buildings harbor rats and there was no mechanical igniter. The gasoline used was not enough per rat to trigger the hydrocarbon "sniffers" used by arson investigators.
The case broke only because a cop saw a flaming rat running across the street in front of his patrol car just *before* a building erupted into flame and saw the arsonist's van peel out. Usually the rats would run into the building looking for hole or some sort of cover, but this rat ran out of the building instead. Of course, he was a professional (the arsonist, not the rat!). The Indiana people are likely amateurs who often fold under interrogation. These are the kinds of cases where the DAs really, REALLY want a confession because of the evidentiary problems that arson cases often present.
-- Bobby G.
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IMO- There are too many people involved. Somebody will cut a deal.
Jim
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Per Oren:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cameron_Todd_Willingham
--
Pete Cresswell

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Pete, you dang sumnobitch, you stole my fire! (-:
That case, and a few others, have resulted in a very fundamental re-examination of what was standard practice in fire investigation. For those too lazy to click, Wiki did a pretty good summary showing two of the "givens" in fire investigation (glass crazing and accelerant trails) that are no longer accepted as fact:
<<Long after the original conviction, in 2004 Gerald Hurst, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry, examined the arson evidence compiled by Manuel Vasquez, the state deputy fire marshal. Hurst said that Vasquez was incorrect when he said that the extreme heat of the fire (as evidenced by a melted aluminum threshold) indicated that an accelerant was used, and said that experiments prove that wood and liquid accelerant fires can burn with equal heat. Hurst's own experiments showed that burning with an accelerant does not leave the kind of brown stains that Vasquez claimed were created that way. Hurst also said that the crazed glass that Vasquez said was caused by a liquid accelerant had been found as a result of brush fires elsewhere. Experiments showed that crazed glass was caused not by rapid heating but by cooling, and that glass cooled by water from a fire hose was more likely to have a crazed or cracked pattern. A $20,000 experimental house fire set without an accelerant created the same pour patterns and V shaped pattern that Vasquez attributed to the use of a liquid accelerant.>>
The methods and techniques fire investigators have relied on for almost half a century were based on test burnings involving a 1950's built home and furnishings. The amount of plastic used back then was miniscule compared to how much plastic you find in a modern home.
-- Bobby G.
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Per Robert Green:

I wasn't trying to come off as knowing anything.
But that Wikipedia account seemed to support the contention that arson investigation was pretty bad in the past and has moved more into the realm of science today.
And Rick Perry looked pretty mean in that article.
--
Pete Cresswell

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Oren wrote:

The ability of the Governor of Texas to interfere in an execution is severely restricted. On his own motion, he can issue ONE stay for, I believe, thirty days. Anything else, up to and including remission of sentence, pardon, or additional stays have to be initiated by the state board of Pardons & Parols. If the board does vote for a stay, the governor may consent to the stay or decline the recommendation.
Courts, both federal and state, have their own policies, but, by far, more stays are issued by the courts than the governor's office.
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Only on Sunday.
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Oren wrote:

Texas recently did away with the "last meal" tradition. Formerly, a condemned prisoner could request anything for his last meal, with some exceptions such as alcohol or cigarettes, whose cost to the prison system did not exceed fifty dollars.
Now, the prisoner gets, for his last meal, the same thing as everybody else in the place.
Considering the number of executions that take place in Texas, fifty bucks per adds up to a nifty sum pretty quickly.
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Oren wrote:

I considered constructing a web site:
thelastmeal.org.
It's purpose would be to solicit donations to provide this last meal of virtually anything the condemned wanted*. I'd have to get the state's prison officials on board, but I don't see any real problem with that. In the first place, they'd save a little money, but more importantly, they'd get atta-boys for being the compassionate public servants we all know deep-down they are.
Those who contribute would bask in the certain knowledge they are helping the soul of an unfortunate transition from worldly pain into the loving arms of baby Jesus (with suitable substitutions for Muslims, Jews, and vegetarians).
Of course there would probably be significant expenses involved: administration, supervision, correspondence, etc., that would accrue to thelastmeal.org's clerical staff (me), but I wouldn't take more than half the salary of the United Way's CEO.
--------- * Alternatively, the inmate could choose from a comprehensive menu provided by thelastmeal.org
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Give yourself some creadit. You heard about the case. That's more than a lot of people know.

I would say "is moving more into the realm of science" because there's plenty of just awful accident reconstruction out there, whether fire, explosion or collision. The advent of easy-to-use simulation programs make it very easy for someone who's not really an experienced professional to make a presentation that impresses the hell out of a jury, even if it's a total fabrication.
I once had the pleasure of watching a crusty old one-armed judge from North Carolina eject an alleged forensic expert. The expert had never been to the site and only had a pack of drugstore color prints taken by an insurance investigator to work from.
It will take a while for the new methodologies to "ripple" through the profession. Sometimes it takes a generation for the old guys to retire and new guys to come up trained in the modern way of doing things. When DNA first became prevalent, evidence techs used to saturate a crime scene with Luminol to make blood spatter appear under UV light. It also contaminated the living hell out of the DNA, rendering it useless for matching purposes.
It has taken a while for investigators to understand how to preserve and collect DNA. I was surprised to learn that as of the OJ case, some big-city homicide detectives still didn't get it right.

Rick will make a wonderful President of the Republic of Texas when they secede from the Union.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_Secession_Movement
I thought he was the most electable of the field and was surprised to see him knocked out of the box so early. So he forgot stuff and froze - running a state as large as Texas seems to me to be good OJT for a would-be POTUS.
-- Bobby G.
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I just read a bit online about the Willingham case. Not sure about the forensic evidence and a lot of that may have been poorly done, but some of his actions and statements as reported by witnesses sure were strange. For example, he told a fire investigator that he poured mens cologne down a hallway leading to the kids bedrooms because they like the smell of it? Sure seems like someone who knew an accelerant was used and trying to come up with plausible deniability. And not very smart either, with that story.....
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<stuff snipped>

be
Yep, why rely on science when human weakness is so vast?. The problem, of course, is that it's well known prosecutors can get whatever testimony they need by jacking someone up for some other crime (drug possesion's a favorite) and then "leveraging" the desired testimony out of them for a promise of immunity.
-- Bobby G.
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