How Junk Science Sent Claude Garrett to Prison For Life

A closeup of a blazing fire.
A closeup of a blazing fire.

JUST BEFORE DAWN, on the unseasonably warm morning of February 24, 1992, a small house caught fire in Old Hickory, Tennessee, a few miles northeast of Nashville. The one-story cinderblock home, located at 114 Broadway Street, in a low-income neighborhood called Hopewell, was shared by 35-year-old Claude Francis Garrett and his 24-year-old girlfriend, Lorie Lee Lance. Claude did construction jobs, and Lorie waited tables at the Uno’s Pizzeria while going to school part time. As the fire tore through the living room, devouring the furniture, smoke and flames rose rapidly behind the front windows, then burst through the door. Across the street, a dog started barking.

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