PICKENS COUNTY—A murder case accusing former Easley businessman Donald Kinsela of killing his wife, Cheryl, is expected to go to a jury today after closing arguments.
Kinsela is charged with murder and arson after a building at his Beverly Drive home caught fire in July of 2010, killing his wife who was entraped inside.
Kinsela’s trial began last week.
Monday, the state and the defense rested their cases. The defense called several final witnesses to testify to what they are calling a “sloppy” investigation. Kinsela chose not to testify.
Dr. Vytenis Babrauskas, author of Ignition Handbook, testified on the defenses’ behalf, saying tests conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms fire investigation to determine arson were invalid.
“(The ATF) didn’t do a type of a job in this particular case that would give any sort of reliable information,” Babrauskas said. “If you are going to make any sort of test that says this is how this ignition happened, you have to be accurate in doing that. If you set up your experiment and you get it wrong, you’re going to have results that cannot possibly be believed because they don’t pertain to that particular situation.”
Babrauskas argued the conditions of the building that was burned were not recreated adequately.
“They went into the lab, spilled some gasoline on the floor and said ‘let us see what happens,’” Babrauskas said. “That’s a legitimate endeavour if you have created an environment which is a very close reproduction of what it is you’re trying to study. If you didn’t, then you’re presenting data that isn’t completed.”
Babrauskas said Kinsela’s ability to recall exactly what happened may be limited.
“Mr. Kinsela was not just a witness, he was in, what I would understand to be, the worst crisis of his life,” Babrauskas said. “He was caught in something horrendous as it was happening. Fire brings fear to anybody. What that does to people trying to recall it after the fire is a person tends to walk away from there with just a few images. In other words, they don’t have a story. They don’t have a movie they can play in their head. What they have are a few striking images that are left with them.”
Babrauskas ultimately stated the cause of the fire should be left undetermined.
“The fire should be classified as ‘cause and origin undetermined,’” Babrauskas said. “If you have two or more hypotheses of potential ways the fire could have originated, then your responsibility is to rule the fire undetermined.”
A final story recapping closing arguments was not available at press time. Please check www.TheEasleyProgress.com and www.PickensSentinel.com for updates as they become available.