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show where the clothing evidence originated. According to trial transcripts, the earliest paperwork documenting the transfer of evidence from Bux to Castorena was, by Castorena’s own 1996 testimony, first typed by him fourteen months after the fire. Not only are the documents pertaining to the mason jar of clothing suspicious, but yet another container of Richardson’s clothing remnants, this time a gallon-sized evidence can, was analyzed weeks later at a Dallas arson lab. No evidence of gasoline was found. In an interview conducted earlier this year, Dr. Bux explained that the material sent to the Dallas lab was meant to be the “icing on the cake” for the prosecution, but no gasoline was found by the Dallas lab because there was none left after the Bexar County tests were completed. But Bux’s account is contradicted by Fallon, who in a 1996 interview with the San Antonio ExpressNews claimed that the can was the original container. According to Fallon, the can had not been previously analyzed and stripped of gasoline, as the prosecution maintained in 1993. One document, never introduced in court, sheds some light on the history of the can. Joe Castorena wrote a memo to a Dallas arson lab, A.I.D., in December 1991, and produced it only when ABC News asked him about chain-of-possession documents for the clothing remnants. When questioned, he reached into his personal file and handed over a handwritten memo: the chain-of-custody document for Bill Richardson’s clothing remnants. During a sentencing trial in 1996, Castorena was questioned about the can of evidence that was analyzed in Dallas and found to be free of accelerants. Under questioning from the defense attorney, he denied any specific knowledge of the evidence can or its contents: Q: So what did go to A.I.D. to be analyzed? C: I have no idea what the other samples were. Q: What went to A.I.D. December 30, 1991? You don’t know? C: No. I don’t have any documentation to read or find out what was sent to A.I.D. In the memo he showed to ABC, however, Castorena makes specific reference to the can and its contents. To the director of the Dallas arson lab, he wrote: “As per our conversation of today’s date Fort Stockton. If you have any questions regarding the samples, please contact Dr. Robert Bux.” Not only did Castorena know about the can of clothing sent to Dallas, he knew it contained clothing remnants belonging to Bill Richardson. Yet under oath, he testified that he had no knowledge or documentation of such evidence. Why would the conclusions of Castorena \(who was not a fire-deteam were aware of conflicting tests conducted by competent scientists in an arson lab? Why would the chief toxicologist say under oath that he had no recall of critical evidence, and later show that evidence to a reporter? When asked to comment, Castorena said, “I’m not giving any interviews. I have my reasons. I’ve had my chance, and it never comes out right can’t win for losing.” A forensic lab is only as good as its documented evidence. After more money and personnel were provided after 1994, perhaps standards in San Antonio did improve. But what about the lab’s standards in 1991, when Ytuarte was documenting dozens of irregularities and A Post-autopsy evidence containers Man Richardson Bill Richardson’s clothing was being tested for accelerants? These are questions officials at the Bexar County Forensic Science Lab are not going to answer. “There’s a bunch of bullshit going around about the Cacy trial,” says Chief Medical Examiner DiMaio. “You have people going around shooting their mouths off about details of the case who have no experience in forensic work. And they know more than scientists with twenty-five years experience in the field of forensics?” But the volunteer forensic scientists disagree, and consider the chief pathologist’s faulty recall and the unexplained evidence transfers more than sufficient grounds to challenge the Fort Stockton jury’s decision. “I’ve known cases where a fire chief will leave a piece of evidence unattended on the back of his truck while he gets a cup of coffee, and he’s told that sample is inadmissible in court,” said fire-debris expert Richard Henderson. Yet the whereabouts of the single most critical piece of evidence that sent Sonia Cacy to jail for ninety-nine years was unknown for some fourteen months. Why, then, is Sonia Cacy in prison? It appears to have been a combination of prosecutorial zeal, poor lawyering, and a D.A.’s imperative to defend at all costs the machinery used to support criminal prosecutions. Eric Rabbanian, one of the lawyers now working pro bono on Cacy’s defense, said that the prosecution “can easily be justified in the Machiavellian minds of some, if they want to believe they are dealing with a criminal.” And when faced with a civil suit that would, in a sense, put the prosecution on trial, Bexar County took the most direct route out of the courtroom, offering Larry Ytuarte a substantial monetary settlement. “Public entities such as Bexar County are very hesitant to take [whistleblower] cases to trial,” said Travis County District Court Judge Scott McCown, who presided over the Ytuarte case. “Plaintiffs have had such good luck in the past…. A settlement wraps it up and puts it to rest with a minimum of bad publicity.” Along with the AUGUST 28, 1998 14 THE TEXAS OBSERVER