UPDATED: 1:35PM, Tuesday, December 4, 2012
An Easley man charged with murder and arson in connection with the 2010 death of his wife has been found not guilty by a jury.
A Pickens County jury found Don Kinsela not guilty of murder and arson this afternoon.
Jurors deliberated for less than an hour in the case Kinsela, the Easley man on charged with murder and arson in the 2010 death of his wife, Cheryl Kinsela.
The case was released into the jury’s hands shortly before noon today, and jurors came back with their verdict shortly before 1pm.
Closing arguments began at 9:30 this morning.
Defense attorney Druanne White called the state’s case against her client “preposterous.”
She said the events of July 3, 2010 were nothing more than “a very,very tragic accident.”
She said the state’s case was based around a theory that Don Kinsela had hatched “a crazy scheme” to set the shed on fire while his wife was still inside it.
“This is what the state wants you to believe,” White said,
She said there was no evidence that Cheryl Kinsela had been injured or incapacitated before the fire, and that Don Kinsela had called 911 immediately after the fire in the shed at his home.
“He did not stand there and wait for the fire to burn up,” White said.
She dismissed the state’s claim that Kinsela had given inconsistent statements the day of the fire and afterwards.
“Everything (he said) was consistent with it being an accident,” White said, adding that Kinsela’s statements were “completely, absolutely consistent” with the fire being an accidental vapor fire.
“We know he was telling the truth,” White said. “It was a quick fire, it was impossible to see every detail.”
She attacked the testing done in the investigation, calling it “bad science.”
She painted a “garbage in, garbage out scenario,” stating that faulty investigative methods had led to wrong assumptions.
She said the state had presented no evidence that a crime had been committed and had not done proper testing of items found at the scene that could have ignited a vapor fire, such as a computer tower, a small fridge and electrical outlets.
She said the state’s case was an empty package delivered in a “spectacular presentation.”
“Do not be part of the high-tech lynching,” she told the jury.
Solicitor Walt Wilkins said that Don Kinsela had lied to the investigators from the very beginning and that Cheryl Kinsela’s death was premeditated.
Don Kinsela purchased bales of pine straw at Lowe’s two days before the fire and placed them in a shed, in a small space that only Cheryl could easily access, Wilkins said.
“All he’s got to do is get Cheryl in that back, left corner,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins said Kinsela’s story about the fire kept changing, that he first said he’d spilled gasoline on a weed eater, which then ignited.
He then said he’d dropped a container of gas, then told investigators he’d flailed around trying to get a spider off of him, spilling the gas container he’d held all aroun the shed.
Wilkins said Kinsela asked Cheryl to go back to that space and retrieve some fans, then lit the spilled gasoline
He said testing had eliminated other sources of ignition, including the computer tower, the fridge and static electricity.
“All that’s left is Don Kinsela, a lighter and two cans of gasoline,” Wilkins said.
He said the pine straw would not have burned quickly at all - unless it had been doused in gasoline.
Kinsela told investigators his feet had been set ablaze in the fire, but there was no evidence of that, Wilkins said.
He said Kinsela only had singeing on the backs of his hands and atop his head, consistent, Wilkins said, with leaning down to light gasoline, then leaning back as it caught fire.
Wilkins said he was disappointed with the verdict
“We were certainly shocked at the quickness of the verdict,” Wilkins said. “It was a complicated, very scientific case. It’s a little surprising that they came back this quick. However, we feel that the justice system worked as it’s supposed to work. The state presented its case – the state believed in its case. We believed we had significant evidence and enough to easily prove over a reasonable doubt. These twelve jurors saw it differently, as is their right, and they came to a different conclusion.
“That’s why we have jury trials and the criminal justice system,” Wilkins continued. “It’s a good day for the criminal justice system in general.”
Don Kinsela, who was indicted last year, chose not to testify in his own defense on Monday afternoon.