Delays and Lack of Compensation Plague Texas’s Junk Science Law

Defendant Sonia Caci was convicted of murder by arson for the 1991 death of her uncle in house fire. At trial, an expert testified that there was evidence of an accelerant on the decedent’s clothes and on some of the furniture. Six years later, seven independent expert found that the decedent likely died of a heart attack. A new interpretation of the evidence led experts to believe that the decedent died of a heart attack while smoking, leading to the fire. Caci was freed from prison, but has remained on parole for the past 17 years and has found trouble finding a job or permanent housing. Caci hopes to get a new trial based on the new Junk Science law in Texas. However, only one other defendant in Texas has gotten such relief, and there is no set timeline on how long the court can wait before overturning a conviction.

A criticism of the law is that the defendant does not necessarily get exonerated if acquitted in a new trial. An exoneration requires a higher standard of evidence. Without an exoneration, acquitted defendants cannot seek compensation for their wrongful conviction.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/should-people-convicted-based-on-poor-scientific-evidence-be-given-new-trials/

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