Subrogation Lawyer Helps with Arson Exoneration


Cozen O’Connor’s Subrogation attorney Larry Walker assisted on the team of other Cozen lawyers (Matt Glazer and Chase Howard), along with the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, to secure the exoneration and release of a man wrongfully convicted of arson. 

Their client, Harold Staten, who is now 71, had been in prison for nearly 38 years serving a life sentence for charges of arson and second degree murder in connection with a 1984 house fire in North Philadelphia, PA.  Due to the blaze of the fire, four people had to jump from the second story to escape, and one of the victims later died from their injuries. 

Larry Walker, with his extensive experience in fire investigations, and Matt Glazer, a former prosecutor, brought their expertise to this case for more than five years.  The fire investigation experts retained by Cozen and the Commonwealth, pivotal new evidence based on revolutionary developments in fire science, and the reinvestigation of this case by the Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) at the District Attorney’s Office finally revealed this fire cannot be classified as an arson under the current fire science standards.

Key to the CIU’s findings was the 2021 edition of NFPA 921.  Fire investigators and subrogation professionals know the NFPA well, which is the National Fire Protection Association’s “Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations.”  According to NFPA 921, “when an accurate area of origin cannot be determined, no cause (accidental or arson) determination can be made.”  These updated standards, along with discrepancies in witness statements from the initial investigation, led the Court to conclude that it could not be determined whether Mr. Staten (or anyone) intentionally set the building on fire.

Due to the new advances in fire science and hard work of the legal team, the Court vacated Mr. Staten’s conviction and dismissed all charges against him.  On February 5th, Mr. Staten walked free from the state correctional facility. 

Cozen O’Connor is so proud of its attorneys’ Pro Bono commitment and this truly amazing win for Mr. Staten.

About The Author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply