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Grand juror disagrees with dismissal of arson charge against Francisca Medina

Given the grand jury issues that surrounded the original indictment of Supreme Court Justice David Medina in the matter of the fire that destroyed his house, this seems only fitting.

A grand juror who sat on one of two panels to indict the wife of Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina for setting their home on fire said Saturday he was disappointed that charges against her had once again been dismissed.

“There were two independent grand juries, and from the facts determined, there was sufficient probable cause to retain indictments,” said Steve Howell, a retired oil and gas executive. “I would like to have a jury hear the facts. I am perfectly contented once a jury has heard the facts, to abide by a decision of a jury … I trust juries.”

Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos denied politics had anything to do with her decision Friday to dismiss the charges against Francisca Medina. Instead, she said it was strictly new evidence that earned her approval.

Prosecutor Steve Baldassano said neither of the grand juries that heard the case had the new information.

Expert evidence recently given to Baldassano by the defense team – and agreed upon by at least one official from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office – indicates it could have been an electrical fire.

“If you can’t rule out an electrical fire as the cause, then you can’t prove arson,” said Lykos.

Arson cannot be ruled out either, said Baldassano, who emphasized that the defense’s expert witnesses were “highly regarded” in the field and also serve as experts for the state in other cases.

Howell, the grand juror, said the new information indicating the cause of the fire could have been electrical would have had little effect, if any, on his decision to indict because he had access to other evidence and testimony, which he would not discuss.

I presume that nothing precludes the possibility of charges being refiled in the future if the evidence warrants. This has been a truly weird case from the beginning. Murray Newman has more.

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3 Comments

  1. Jeb says:

    Any word from the Medina’s insurance company on this? They have an interest in determining whether this was arson or a compensable electrical fire.

  2. [...] on to lose races for County Attorney and CD10. He’s one of two people running against Justice David Medina. Ken Law gets to be the 2012 test of “Can a guy with a nice, easy, Anglo name knock off an [...]

  3. [...] and really isn’t that strong a candidate, but Medina has weaknesses as well, including that arson saga and his financial situation. He should be vulnerable, as his 39% performance in May suggests. [...]

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