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Prosecutor recommends court vacate murder conviction

November 23, 2021 GMT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee prosecutor’s office is recommending that a court vacate the conviction of a man in the 1992 death of his girlfriend.

Claude Garrett, 65, is serving a life prison sentence after being convicted of murdering Lorie Lee Lance, who died of smoke inhalation in the Nashville home the couple shared.

Investigators at the time believed they found evidence that he set the blaze, but fire science has changed in the last 30 years and a filing by prosecutors on Monday said they no longer believe the fire was intentionally set, news outlets reported.

“This office knows of clear and convincing evidence of creating a reasonable likelihood that Mr. Garrett did not commit the offense of which he was convicted,” Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk wrote in the filing. “The state will then request a conviction in this matter be vacated and the case dismissed.”

An investigation by Funk’s Conviction Review Unit found multiple alternate theories that could explain how the fire was started accidentally.

A criminal court judge must review the motion and decide the next step in the case.