King, Shelly. A Manufacturer's Defect Or Murder? Fire Engineering. January
1986. pp. 31-34.
Abstract: This article explains how an attorney successfully used
forensic evidence to prove that an accidental car fire was really an arson-homicide.
A lawsuit was brought against General Motors because a brand new car exploded
and killed the driver. The initial established cause of the fire was a faulty
carburetor or a faulty fuel line. The attorney for General Motors began
the defense of the case and discovered that the dental records of the deceased
were missing. This prompted a new investigation of the body. The attorney
thought maybe the dead victim was not who everyone assumed he was. Forensic
scientists were called to examine the remains and they determined that the
jaw of the body had been broken and that the body suffered its fatal injuries
before set on fire.
To further support the defense case for General Motors the attorney decided
that he must also prove the care was deliberately set on fire. He hired
fire experts to examine the car and they were able to determine that the
car was torched. A carburetor fire would burn upwards and the burn patterns
and damage on the car in question did not support that claim. Fire experts
were also able to determine that two separate fires set destroyed the car.
In court the expert testimony convinced the jury that the fire was arson
and not the result of a faulty carburetor.
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