Scientific Advances Raise Doubt about Arson Convictions


A recent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article covers several Pennsylvania convictions that are being challenged on the basis of outdated arson evidence. Marissa Bluestine, Director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project said that unreliable evidence was used against multiple clients serving life sentences for arson. In January, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that one of Bluestine’s clients deserved a chance to appeal the conviction.

Donald Brucker, Allegheny County chief deputy fire marshal, acknowledges that some conclusions he reached while investigating fires a decade ago probably couldn’t be substantiated today.


“Without a doubt, there’s a lot of things that have changed,” said Brucker, who’s investigated fires for 20 years, including the last 13 years for the county

Questionable arson convictions are under review nationwide in states including Texas, Arizona, and Massachusetts.


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