Exonerated on June 20, 2011
James “Jimmy” Hebshie was convicted in 2006 of an arson that destroyed a building in Taunton, MA. Seven minutes after he left Main Street Lottery & News Store, a fire broke out that severely damaged the building. The owner, Hebshie, was immediately made a suspect. He was indited after an investigation by the local fire department and insurance company.
His conviction was based on fire science that has since been widely discredited. Detectives quickly zeroed in on Hebshie as a suspect, stating that he set the fire in order to collect a $30,000 insurance policy. It was determined by State Trooper David Domingos, an investigator in the State Fire Marshal’s Office, that the fire had been deliberately started in Hebshie’s convenience store through Domingo’s use of an “accelerant sniffing” dog. A petroleum distillate was discovered. This substance, characterized as a “poor” accelerant, could have been all over the building, but this was never determined due to the detectives failure to take control samples.
On November 15, 2010 Hebshie was granted a new trial, calling his counsel ineffective for failing to challenge the fire science testimony. He was released on bail two days before Thanksgiving 2010. On June 20, 2011 the government filed a motion to dismiss all charges. James Hebshie passed away at the age of 69 in 2015. This was only four years after he was exonerated.