24 Years Later, Science Overturns Arson Conviction

Han Tak Lee imprisoned for allegedly murdering daughter

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 22, 2014 4:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – In 1990, Han Tak Lee was convicted of murdering his daughter. Now, almost a quarter-century later, a judge says the 79-year-old's conviction rested on a scientific inaccuracy—and the former New York businessman is finally out of prison, the AP reports. According to a review of his case finished in June, "much of what was presented to Lee's jury as science is now conceded to be little more than superstition." But Lee, who was initially sentenced to life without parole, the Morning Call notes, is not entirely out of the woods: Prosecutors say that there's more evidence against him, and they're likely to appeal.

Prosecutors have 120 days to make their decision. For his part, Lee holds that a fire in the Pocono Mountains which resulted in his daughter's death was an accident, the AP notes. But investigators decades ago believed the fire was arson due to its intensity, which was once thought to indicate that an accelerant was used. Other features left in wood and windows after the fire were also seen as evidence of arson, but this is no longer considered accurate. The case is one of many facing renewed attention due to changes in the way arson is identified.

This undated file photo shows Han Tak Lee.
This undated file photo shows Han Tak Lee.   (AP Photo/The Philadelphia Inquirer, Todd Buchanan, File)
In a Sept. 6, 1989 file photo, Han Tak Lee is lead to the Swiftwater, Pa., State Police barracks for processing.
In a Sept. 6, 1989 file photo, Han Tak Lee is lead to the Swiftwater, Pa., State Police barracks for processing.   (AP Photo/The Pocono Record, David W. Coulter, File)
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