About NIAD
by Michael H. Fox
NIAD Director


(Pictured: Michael Fox (left) and John Lentini (right) at the 2012 Innocence Conference. University of Missouri Law School. Kansas City.

In 2004, I read an article in
Justice: Denied: The Magazine for the Wrongfully Convicted, entitled, Convicted of Starting Deadly Fire with an Unburnable Substance: The Mark Kirk Story. In short, Kirk was convicted of killing three people by pouring Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum, an inflammable substance, onto an electric burner. To secure the conviction, the state of Delaware falsified an experiment showing volcanic flames erupting as rum is poured onto a white-hot burner, and Kirk was convicted. The state asked for the death penalty, and Kirk received life without parole.

At the same time, I was also working on a case here in Japan, The Higashi-Sumiyoshi Case, involving a couple charged with killing their daughter for insurance premiums in a fire. Both cases seemed strikingly similar, involving accidental fires, false confessions, and wrongful convictions.

After reading the article in Justice: Denied!, I wrote to Kirk, enclosed a modest donation, and in lieu of thanks, requested that he write to T. Boku, the male defendant in the Japan case. The two struck up a friendship and continue to exchange letters over the oceans.

Though both countries, the USA and Japan, have quite a few cases of wrongful convictions, Japanese defendants who make strong claims of innocence will receive continuing free legal assistance from do-good attorneys. In the states, you have a right to an attorney in your initial trial, and after that, in most cases, you must pay or defend yourself.

When I first contacted Kirk, he was acting as his own attorney and filiing appeals. I created a website to help publicize his case. A couple years back, I received an SOS from the mother of Raphael Holiday, an inmate sentenced to death in Texas in 2002 for arson and murder. Since then, I have expanded the Mark Kirk website to publicize the fates of any and all defendants claiming wrongful conviction in arson cases.

Something about fire terrifies the human soul. Be it the fear and pain of burning, or the ability to destroy to wipe out homes and possessions which have taken lifetimes to acquire, fire evokes a primeval anxiety. Murder is the most heinous crime, and murder inflicted by fire exacerbates our desire for retribution. The presence of fire at the scene of death often clouds the eyes of investigators, and torments the family of the deceased. The search for truth is obscured by smoke, and the remaining anger stokes the embers of vengeance.

There If you or someone you know has been wrongfully convicted, please send me information and I will be glad to upload.


NIAD.ORG advocates for two types of defendants:
Arson Denied: fires which were accidental, and the conviction was based on junk science and/or investigative malfeasance.
Wrongfully Convicted: fires were set but police charged the wrong party to clear the case quickly, to protect the real perpetrator, or to convict someone they do not like.