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In an unpublished decision, the California Court of Appeal found no prejudicial error in the introduction of evidence of a four year old arson to the insured’s vehicle in an insured’s trial for arson and insurance fraud involving his business.

People v. Valerio (Second District Court of Appeal of California, February 23, 2016, Unpublished) 2016 WL 720988

Valerio’s business was having financial difficulty. Six weeks after taking out a business insurance policy, a fire occurred. The investigation revealed gasoline and road flares were used to start the fire. Four years earlier, Valerio had presented an insurance claim for arson to his vehicle which also involved the use of gasoline and road flares. (The claim was paid and no criminal charges were brought.) Valerio was convicted of arson and insurance fraud, based in part on this prior act evidence. On appeal, he claimed the introduction of the prior arson was prejudicial. The appellate court affirmed, concluding that the evidence of the prior fire was not inadmissible, because “other act” evidence may be admitted when relevant to prove some other material fact, including intent, knowledge, identity, motive, or the existence of a common design or plan.

To view the opinion, click HERE.

John D. DeHaan, Ph.D., FABC, FFSSoc, MIFireE
November 2011

Introduction: 

In every country, particularly in highly industrialized ones, fire kills a significant percentage of people. In the U.S., it is one of the five leading causes of accidental death with about 3,500 fire deaths reported per year (12 per million population).1 In the UK, 451 fire-related deaths were reported in 2008 (7.1 deaths/1000 dwelling fires or 7.3 per million population).2 Scotland reported only 47 fire fatalities in 2010-11 and 59 for 2009-10.3 These figures are about half of what they were in the 1970’s. The involvement of the investigator or forensic specialist in fatal fires can come in any form, from any sector, and challenge one’s talents and knowledge to come to just and accurate conclusions. These cases require the highest degree of cooperation between the investigators who all have contributions to make towards a successful investigation. When deaths occur in a fire, the event becomes the focus of the press and the public as well as police, fire, insurance, and forensic professionals. When problems occur, they can have far-reaching consequences. 

 

From Out of the Abyss...

This week's article is from the March 1956 VOL II, No 3 issue of the California Conference of Arson Investigators newsletter.  It was written by George W. Lacy.

"What Constitutes Evidence", Analyzed Unusual Evidence for Scientific Identification. 

SUMMARY:

Eldorado National-Kansas (Eldorado) is recalling certain model year 2010-2015 Amerivan and Amerivan 10 vehicles manufactured September 1, 2009, to March 28, 2016 on Dodge and Chrysler minivan chassis. The crimp fastener on the fuel line assembly of the affected vehicles may not be fully crimped, allowing fuel to leak at the hose to fitting assembly.

Find the details at NHTSA

Description

This recall involves Rheem brand “Performance Platinum” electric water heaters in 40, 50 and 80 gallon capacities. The recalled water heaters are gray and have the “Performance Platinum” Rheem logo decal on the front above the thermostat control panel. The water heaters have a rating plate near the bottom of the unit with the model number, date of manufacture and serial number. Recalled water heaters have the following model number and have a serial number within the following ranges:

Model Number

Serial Number Ranges

Date Code

XE40M12EC55U0

A0114XXXXX to A5214XXXXX

M0114XXXXX to M5214XXXXX

Q0114XXXXX to Q5214XXXXX

 

A0515XXXXX

 

A1015XXXXX to A1615XXXXX

01Jan2014 – 21Dec2014

 

 

 

30Jan2015

 

03Mar2015  – 13Apr2015

XE50M12EC55U0

A0114XXXXX to A5214XXXXX

M0114XXXXX to M5214XXXXX

Q0114XXXXX to Q5214XXXXX

 

A0515XXXXX

 

A1015XXXXX to A1615XXXXX

01Jan2014 – 21Dec2014

 

 

 

30Jan2015

 

03Mar2015 – 13Apr2015

XE50T12EC55U0

A0114XXXXX to A5214XXXXX

M0114XXXXX to M5214XXXXX

Q0114XXXXX to Q5214XXXXX

1Jan2014 – 21Dec2014

XE80T12EC55U0

A0114XXXXX to A5214XXXXX

M0114XXXXX to M5214XXXXX

Q0114XXXXX to Q5214XXXXX

1Jan2014 – 21Dec2014

Get the full details at CPSC.

CCAI was recently contacted by CBS (San Francisco) News Investigative Reporter, Julie Watts, regarding fire retardant chemicals in child car seats, and was looking for footage of burning vehicles. We were happy to help.

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Car seats are the only consumer product that parents are legally required to purchase in every state, though they are also commonly used outside of the car as strollers seats, swing inserts and as a place for babies to sleep inside the home.

A recent KPIX investigation repeatedly uncovered concerning, even cancer-causing, chemicals in a majority of the car seats tested. Then, using biomonitoring, we linked high levels of cancer-causing flame retardants in a child’s body to the flame retardants in her car seat.

The alleged culprit: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 44-year old Federal Motor Vehicle Flammability Standard, FMVSS No. 302.

Click here for the video

Click on the link to see the full investigation.

Toxic Safety: Investigating Car Seat Chemicals

Expert Witness Testimony

Expert Witness Testimony Class

Presented by:

Steve Huchting - Richard Knapp - Wayne Tyson

In concert with each of our semi-annual training seminars, CCAI sponsors and presents the International Association of Arson Investigators Expert Witness Testimony Class. 

The IAAI Expert Witness Testimony Class has been developed to assist you, the fire investigator, in continuing your education, however it was primarily designed to help complete the requirements needed to obtain your Certified Fire Investigator credentials.

This class is essential for fire investigators who have the experience, education and training, but lack the two courtroom testimonies required to become a CFI.

The EWT was created to educate and train fire investigators in what is expected when preparing for, and actually having, the opportunity to testify in court.

This course is not easy.  Prior to coming to the class, each student is expected to complete several assignments; develop a Curriculum Vitae, complete a photo collage, a diagram and an action plan.

If you are serious about your career and future, make sure you call the office and get your name on the list. This class usually fills up six months to one year in advance.

Wayne Tyson, Richard Knapp and Steve Huchting do an excellent job in selecting the best qualified attorneys to assist in the delivery of the class materials.

So, if your goal is to become a CFI through either CCAI or IAAI and you do not have the necessary mandated two courtroom testimonies, sign up now.

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Phone:  (909) 865-5004
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