Fire Marshal Investigating Texas Justice’s House Fire as Arson

October 4, 2007

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office said the fire that destroyed the home of Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina this summer was “very suspicious” and is being investigated as arson.

The fire broke out the night of June 28 in the garage of Medina’s home near the Houston suburb of Spring, also destroying one neighboring home and damaged a third.

Nathan Green, the lead investigator on the case, said a dog detected an accelerant at the fire scene. He said that doesn’t always mean the fire was set on purpose, but “more times than not, the presence of an accelerant is indicative of an incendiary, intentionally set fire.”

“It is being treated as an arson until the investigation is completed,” Green said. “Until I find something that leads me otherwise, I have to.”

Investigators have ruled out the possibility of an electrical fire, Green said, and no evidence has indicated the fire started accidentally.

Green said the investigation had identified six “persons of interest.”
When contacted by the Houston Chronicle, Medina said he was surprised to hear that investigators had identified six people of interest.

“I was not aware. … That’s quite startling,” Medina told the newspaper. He also said he had “no idea” if he knew anyone who might have started the fire.

A mortgage company filed to foreclose on the home in June 2006, according to public records. Medina and the mortgage company reached an agreement the following December, Green said.

The foreclosure filing was a “very, very big red flag” for investigators, Green said.

The home was not covered by an insurance policy, it having lapsed because the premiums weren’t paid, Green said. The loan on the house was insured by the finance company, he said.

Medina’s wife and son were the only ones in the family’s residence when the fire broke out and both escaped unharmed, Green said.

Medina apparently didn’t learn of the fire until the morning after the blaze and arrived at the scene that afternoon.

Green said officials have subpoenaed cell phone and financial records of Medina family members and friends.

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