Experts argued over fire simulation software today during the re-trial of Jerry Wayne Walker Jr. who’s charged with starting a fatal 1998 Murray State dorm fire.
Walker’s 2001 trial ended in a hung jury. The defense rested early this morning, allowing experts in combustion science testify and argue for their respective assessments of the fire. The witness for the defense said according to a fire simulation model, a fire fueled by one gallon of gas could not have produced enough of carbon monoxide in the dormitory hall to kill then student Michael Minger. The prosecution has linked Walker to the purchase of a little more than one gallon of gas the night of the incident. The defense called combustion engineer Dr. Richard Roby who analyzed Gorbett’s model and found problems. Roby says a fire fueled by one gallon of gas could not have produced enough carbon monoxide in the dorm to kill student Michael Minger. When rebuttal began, Gorbett replied to those statements. The model, he said, was intended to evaluate thermal damage and the speed of the fire’s development. It was not intended to evaluate carbon monoxide levels in such a way because, he said, such evaluation was not reliable. Attorneys devoted the rest of the morning to questioning these experts. They will give their closing statements tomorrow morning.
Attorneys will issue their closing arguments tomorrow before the case goes to the jury for deliberation.