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Roland Faulkner

Other Arson Cases
On August 30, 1995, firefighters were summoned to a blaze at the home of 53-year-old Roland Faulkner in Ft. Pierce, Florida.

When the blaze was extinguished, fire investigators said the fire was intentionally set using gasoline from a lawn mower in the attached carport.

Faulkner was arrested and charged with second-degree arson and insurance fraud. He went to trial in St. Lucie County Circuit Court on April 1, 1996.

A fire investigator testified that the fire was intentionally set and the prosecution contended that Faulkner had set the fire to collect on an insurance policy.

Faulkner’s lawyers presented no evidence and asked the judge to acquit Faulkner because the prosecution had not introduced any insurance policy into evidence. The judge denied the defense motion for a directed verdict of acquittal and the case was submitted to the jury. After 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury convicted Faulkner of second-degree arson and insurance fraud.

Prior to sentencing, Faulkner’s lawyers filed a motion for new trial stating that they had failed to adequately represent Faulker because they believed that they would obtain an acquittal due the state’s failure to introduce an insurance policy.

The lawyers said that they had failed to call an alibi witness who would have testified that Faulkner was not at home when the fire broke out. The lawyers also said they would have sought a fire expert to investigate whether the fire actually was an arson and would have called a real estate agent to testify that Faulkner had entered into a contract to sell the house before the fire broke out.

St. Lucie County Circuit Court Judge Larry Schack granted the motion for new trial and vacated convictions, saying that had been “greatly concerned during the course of this trial that the defendant was receiving ineffective assistance of counsel.”

The prosecution appealed, but the Florida Court of Appeals upheld the Judge Schack’s ruling. The prosecution also filed a complaint with the Florida State Bar against the defense lawyers, but the complaint was dismissed.

In November 1997, the prosecution dismissed the charges against Faulkner, who had remained free on bond during the post-conviction proceedings.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 8/31/2015
State:Florida
County:St. Lucie
Most Serious Crime:Arson
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1995
Convicted:1996
Exonerated:1997
Sentence:Not sentenced
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:53
Contributing Factors:False or Misleading Forensic Evidence, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No