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Minnesota man cleared on charges of setting girlfriend on fire

The law states that people accused of crimes are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. As one Minnesota man has recently discovered, this doesn’t provide much solace to those who are jailed while the court system moves forward in an effort to determine guilt or innocence.

Earlier this year, a woman who was living with her 61-year-old boyfriend, a former Twin Cities attorney, allegedly awoke in the home they shared to find herself on fire. Law enforcement officials believe that nail polish and hair spray were used as accelerants. Emergency responders were able to douse the fire and rush the woman to the hospital to receive treatment for her injuries.

While at the hospital, the woman’s boyfriend of 12 years came to visit her. He allegedly smelled of soot and smoke, but he claims it was just odors he picked up after visiting his burned home. He was subsequently arrested and charged with assault in the first degree and arson, despite his claims that he was innocent and was at work at the time the incident occurred. While in jail, he was not allowed to have any contact with his girlfriend or even know where she was, and he found this difficult since she had no friends or relatives in the immediate area.

After two months spent in the county jail while continuing to profess his innocence and claim that he had not broken any criminal laws, the courts dropped the charges against the ex-attorney in light of video surveillance evidence proving his claim that he was at work when everything took place. He was released from jail and may now consider filing civil claims against those involved in his incarceration.

Even though the accused was a lawyer himself, he retained a criminal defense attorney to work on his case throughout the ordeal. Anyone who is charged with a crime should have a legal professional who can advocate for the accused.

Source: CBS Minnesota, "Charges Dismissed For Ex-Lawyer Accused Of Setting Woman On Fire," Reg Chapman, June 16, 2014

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