Court Reexamines Arson Murder Conviction In Fort Stockton, Texas

A so-called “Junk Science” law passed in 2013 in Texas has helped enable review of the case of Sonia Cacy, 66, of Fort Stockton. Cacy was convicted of the 1991 murder by arson of her uncle, William Richardson. She has claimed innocence in the fire that swept through the small home they shared. The Innocence Project of Texas has been fighting for several years for her exoneration.

Cacy was sentenced to 99 years in prison but was paroled in 1998 after serving six years. According to the Innocence Project, post-conviction review of the case that included testimony from several experts was successful in securing her release. She’s had difficulty finding employment and housing and has been working for more than 20 years for exoneration to clear her name and her record of the conviction.

Cacy’s lawyers this week presented evidence supporting her innocence in two hearings, Monday and Tuesday, in Fort Stockton. Judge Bert Richardson expects to take several months to release his ruling.

According to several media reports, at trial a Bexar County toxicologist testified to jurors that gasoline was found on Richardson’s clothes, but several fire experts now agree after review of the lab results, there was no proof of gasoline on the clothing. Statewide review of arson cases by the State Fire Marshall found that Richardson likely died of a sudden cardiac event.

Prosecutors agree that the science used to convict Cacy was false, but they support the conviction. According to the Houston Chronicle (here)…

“Prosecutors in Fort Stockton hired a scientist who reviewed the chemical tests for the upcoming hearing and agreed that there wasn’t evidence of gasoline. But they say there’s still enough evidence to support Cacy’s conviction: They accuse Cacy of repeatedly changing her story and trying to run into the burning house, impeding firefighters with her ‘aggressive interference.’ They also point to Richardson’s will as a potential motive, though Cacy’s lawyers say Richardson’s estate was almost worthless.

“Scientific evidence was not needed for the guilty finding,” prosecutors said in a court filing.

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