In an unpublished decision, the California Court of Appeal found no prejudicial error in the introduction of evidence of a four year old arson to the insured’s vehicle in an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.
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.
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.
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
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:
Serial Number Ranges
A0114XXXXX to A5214XXXXX
M0114XXXXX to M5214XXXXX
Q0114XXXXX to Q5214XXXXX
A1015XXXXX to A1615XXXXX
01Jan2014 – 21Dec2014
03Mar2015 – 13Apr2015
03Mar2015 – 13Apr2015
1Jan2014 – 21Dec2014
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
My fellow members,
As I take office, I would like to thank you for your support and trust through the years. I serve this organization in appreciation for all the experience I have gained by attending these conferences and having the opportunity to sit down and share information with some of the most experienced investigators in the industry. The value of this professional training and friendship is truly priceless. It is my desire to continue this tradition of service and bring the best education possible to our members through the Roundtable meetings and Training Seminars.
However, this cannot be done by one man. The president may have to make some important decisions, but it is the Board, Committee Members and Volunteers that make this happen. I am grateful to be surrounded by so many extraordinary individuals, and I thank them for their incredible service to our association. I look forward to another fantastic year with some great education. I invite your participation within your association. Please feel free to contact me directly or any member of the Board. We look forward to working with anyone who has a desire to serve.
This letter follows our March Conference and our largest training experience ever. It was truly amazing that we packed professional training on electrical, spontaneous combustion, Molotov cocktails, flammable liquids, fire patterns recognition, fire progression and much more into one day. We managed to burn four buildings at Camp San Luis Obispo, and not only did we benefit our members with this training, but we saved the tax payers approximately 1.5 million dollars. The cost to demolish a single building and depose of the debris out-of-state to an approved dumpsite is over $400,000 per building. We were given the opportunity to burn these buildings at a cost to the Military Base of only $30,000 per building. On top of all that, we offered the opportunity for Cal Fire to gain additional experience on structure fire suppression. These relationships are strong, and we will continue to serve our members with hands-on live fire investigation training.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the Board of Directors, Committee members, Roundtable Coordinators, and volunteers for their great work in San Luis Obispo. I would also like to thank the office staff for allowing us to focus on our training and providing the necessary support to make this all happen. If it was not for Mr. Fee, April and Pam, we would never have been able to pull this conference off.
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