Man freed after 26 years in Ionia arson case loses lawsuit appeal

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IONIA, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man who was convicted of murder based on faulty fire science and spent 26 years in prison before his release in 2012 has lost an appeal against the estate of an arson investigator.

David Gavitt’s wife and two daughters were killed in a house fire in Ionia in 1985. He was accused of setting the fire but denied any wrongdoing.

In 2012, the Ionia County prosecutor agreed that Gavitt should be released from prison after the Innocence Clinic at the University of Michigan law school presented opinions by arson experts and new evidence.

Gavitt sued, but reports the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that investigator John DeVries essentially had witness immunity.

A federal appeals court earlier ruled that police and prosecutors were immune to a lawsuit.

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