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Fire experts will be allowed to testify in Keene murder trial

CONCORD — The state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday fire experts can testify about their findings in a 1989 Keene apartment building fire that killed a family of four.

The court also reversed the trial court’s ruling that a 2002 recorded telephone conversation in which prime suspect Daniel McLeod admitted he set a couch inside the building on fire is admissible at trial.

McLeod faces four second-degree murder charges for allegedly setting fire to the 88 High St. apartment building in 1989. Newlyweds Carl and Lori Hina, their 4-month-old daughter, Lillian Hina, and Sara Hina, Carl’s 12-year-old daughter, died in the blaze.

McLeod had been living in California for 15 years when he was arrested on the charges June 30, 2010 and returned to New Hampshire. The arrest was the first made by the state’s Cold Case Unit.

McLeod pleaded not guilty to the charges.

State prosecutors appealed the trial court’s ruling that suppressed some expert testimony related to arson and the contents of the one-way telephone intercept authorized by the state Attorney General’s office. The conversation occurred Jan. 3, 2002 between McLeod and Kurt Frazier, who knew McLeod in 1989.

In a 5-0 decision written by Justice Carol Conboy, the Supreme Court also ruled fire experts can offer expert opinion about the cause and origin of the blaze.

Trace Adkins
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