Hearing Scheduled in Appeal of 1973 Arson-Murder Conviction


A hearing will be held Friday in the appeals case of Pennsylvania Innocence Project client Letitia Smallwood, according to the


. Smallwood has been in prison for 42 years for allegedly setting a fire that killed two people in a Carlisle apartment building.  

In a hearing in October, Smallwood’s legal team focused on the changing opinions of arson evidence commonly used in the 1970s and 1980s. Judge Edward Guido heard testimony from fire investigation expert Jason A. Sutula. This week, Judge Guido will hear more testimony from Sutula but Smallwood’s attorneys will focus on flaws in the state’s case against her.


Judge Edward Guido will hear testimony from Joseph Roebuck, the hospital orderly who testified in Smallwood’s 1973 trial. During the trial, Roebuck testified he had overheard Smallwood tell a nurse she had set the fire. The nurse later told Roebuck that he had taken what Smallwood said out of context. When contacted by the Pennsylvania Innocence Project as part of their research into Smallwood’s case, Roebuck admitted he may have misunderstood.

“There was no crime here at all,” Pennsylvania Innocence Project Director Marissa Bluestine told the


. “She has, for the majority of her life, been imprisoned for nothing, and that’s the point that we hope Judge Guido will come away from the hearing with.”

Read the





Leave a Reply

Thank you for visiting us. You can learn more about how we consider cases here. Please avoid sharing any personal information in the comments below and join us in making this a hate-speech free and safe space for everyone.

This field is required.
This field is required.
This field is required.

We've helped free over 200 innocent people from prison. Support our work to strengthen and advance the innocence movement.