Update Hina family

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New Hampshire’s Sullivan County Superior Court Judge Marguerite Wageling heard arguments on David McLeod’s bail request last Sept. 7, 2010. She issued a ruling last Friday, writing that the state met the requirements for keeping McLeod in jail, but at the same time, she also ordered a second hearing.

The state was required to show that the proof against McLeod is strong enough to warrant holding him without bail. Since the case carries a potential sentence of life in prison, such proof would give McLeod reason to flee if released from jail, Wageling wrote.

McLeod told people on the night of the blaze that he “torched the Hilton,” a nickname for the apartment building where they — and McLeod’s ex-girlfriend — lived, N.H. State Police Sgt. Scott Gilbert testified, according to Wageling’s ruling. McLeod revealed a “tendency to flee” when he left Keene eight days after the fire, after he had been questioned repeatedly by police investigating the Hinas’ deaths, Wageling wrote.

McLeod was not indicted during the initial investigation into the fire. He was arrested this year following a probe by the state’s new cold case unit. In the second hearing, McLeod will be able to argue that he is not a flight risk or a danger to the community if released. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.

McLeod is accused of setting fire to a multi-unit apartment building in the early morning hours of January 14, 1989, that claimed the lives of Carl Hina, 49; his wife, Lori Hina, 26; Carl’s 12-year-old daughter, Sara, and the couple’s 4-month-old daughter, Lillian. The medical examiner later ruled they died of smoke inhalation.

It’s not clear what connection, if any, David McLeod had with the Hina family, New Hampshire authorities said. A retired Keene police detective said that investigators at that time believed that David McLeod started the fire to get back at his then-girlfriend and a man who may or may not have had a relationship with her. Both his suspected targets lived in the eight-unit building where the Hinas died. This scenario reminds me of the Kenneth Richey case, a former death row case from the state of Ohio. Richey too was accused of setting a fire to get back at a former girlfriend and her current partner. In that fire, the daughter of Richey’s then-girlfriend died of smoke inhalation.

If you are interested in forensic arson detection you should follow the case of Cameron Todd Willingham. Willingham has been executed by the state of Texas despite reports that point out that the fire was accidental and not arson. Read more about Willingham here.