Appeals court won’t reinstate 1990 arson-murder conviction

An elderly man who spent 24 years in prison for his daughter’s death in a fire will remain free after a federal appeals court in Pennsylvania refused to reinstate his murder conviction.

Eighty-year-old Han Tak Lee was exonerated and freed last year after a judge ruled the arson science used to convict him had been debunked. Prosecutors appealed, saying that other evidence pointed to his guilt.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal on Wednesday, meaning Lee will stay out of prison.

The New York City shop owner had taken his 20-year-old, mentally ill daughter to a religious retreat in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains where, prosecutors say, he set fire to their cabin. Lee has long contended the 1989 fire was accidental.

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