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Wrong Suspects Jailed in Notorious Explosion?

POSTED: 03:03 PM ET, 07/ 1/2008 by Derek Kravitz

The U.S. Attorney in Kansas City announced plans today to re-open a 20-year-old case into a deadly trailer explosion following an investigation by the Kansas City Star questioning the testimony of witnesses.

The third part of an ongoing investigation into the explosions, which killed six Kansas City firefighters in 1988, focused on five witnesses to the explosion who said they were coerced into lying to a federal grand jury or at the trial of the five people indicted for the crime.

The Star's Mike McGraw spent months re-examining the firefighters explosion case, conducting hundreds of interviews and reviewing 30,000 pages of court and investigative files and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The investigation was spurred, in part, by the late J.J. Maloney, a former reporter for The Star, who wrote a two-part series in 1997 for the New Times newspaper that was critical of the convictions.

The six firefighters were killed Nov. 29, 1988, after responding to an arson fire at a construction site in south Kansas City. They entered a trailer at the site, unaware that it contained 25,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.

One of the city's most far-reaching criminal investigations began and, eight years later, five "small-time hoods" from a nearby neighborhood were charged. They were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The Star report quotes a new witness to the explosion, Antonia Garcia, who said two security guards implicated themselves. Garcia's claim is corroborated by three other witnesses, The Star reported.

By Derek Kravitz |  July 1, 2008; 3:03 PM ET
Previous: DC Region: Inmate Killing Highlights Jail Troubles | Next: More Problems for the Credit Raters


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