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Arson suspect acquitted after 4 minutes of deliberation

It took jurors just four minutes to find the defendant in an arson case not guilty recently. With the evidence apparently so one-sided, one wonders why prosecutors continued to pursue the charges against the man, who was accused by his ex-girlfriend.

The defendant was accused of causing a series of suspicious fires from late February to May 29, 2013. Ten vehicles and two apartments were set on fire.

Struggling to find leads, police and the fire marshal offered an $11,000 reward to the public. A woman came forward, telling authorities that her ex-boyfriend. With her as the chief witness against the defendant, he was charged with three counts of arson and two counts of burglary to a conveyance.

However, it appears there was very little evidence against the man besides his ex’s claims. The local undersheriff claimed that the fires took place near his apartment. But that and the ex-girlfriend’s accusations did not hold much water with the jury. At the conclusion of trial recently, it took jurors four minutes to find him not guilty on all charges.

It appears that the ex-girlfriend invented her claims for two reasons: to get revenge against him, and to get the reward money.

Cases like this one are why it is so important that defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt under New York’s criminal law. Even when there is little evidence that a defendant did what prosecutors claimed he or she did, without a high burden of proof, an innocent person can be incarcerated.

Source: WJXT-TV, “Jury acquits Nassau Co. arson suspect in 4 minutes,” Tim Pulliam, May 14, 2014

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Lerner & Lerner, P.C.

Former prosecutors with more than 50 years of combined experience

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