Media Advisory
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2006
Contact: Kenneth Besserman, 512-463-0113
Eric Ferrero, The Innocence Project, 212-364-5346

Press Conference at the Capitol Tuesday Morning on Major Developments In Arson Investigations and Forensics

Expert Scientific Analysis Will Be Released Showing that an Innocent Man Was Executed

On Tuesday morning, the Office of Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and the Innocence Project will hold a press conference to announce that two arson cases are being submitted to the Texas Forensic Science Commission, along with a request that the commission direct a system-wide review of arson convictions in the state. The filing marks the first time in the nation that an empowered state entity will be given scientific evidence that an innocent person was executed.

Who: Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis

Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project

John Lentini, Nationally renowned arson expert who led an independent review that will be released Tuesday

Family members of the man executed in 2004
What: The Innocence Project will submit two cases to the Texas Forensic Science Commission (which is legally obligated to investigate them and reach a conclusion) and request a review of other arson convictions statewide to determine the extent to which faulty forensic analysis has caused innocent people to be convicted of arson for fires that were actually accidents. In both cases being submitted Tuesday, men were tried and convicted of capital murder by arson. In both cases, the state presented forensic evidence and analysis that it said proved both fires were arson. Both men were sentenced to die. In one case, the defendant was eventually exonerated because the fire was an accident, not arson. In the other case, the defendant was executed in 2004. A new independent, expert analysis shows that neither fire was arson. New material uncovered through Open Records Act requests also shows that the government had access to – but ignored – information showing that the fire for which a man was executed was not arson. This information will be released and detailed at the press conference.
Where: Lieutenant Governor’s Press Room
When: Tuesday, May 2, 2006, at 10 a.m.