DA seeking reinstatement of 1990 arson-murder conviction

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Prosecutors are asking a federal appeals court to reinstate the murder conviction of an elderly man who spent 24 years in prison for his daughter’s death in a fire.

Eighty-year-old Han Tak Lee was freed last year after a judge ruled the arson science used to convict him had been debunked. Prosecutors say that other evidence points to Lee’s guilt.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia is scheduled to hear arguments in the case Thursday.

The New York City shop owner had taken his 20-year-old, mentally ill daughter to a religious retreat in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains where, prosecutors say, he set fire to their cabin. Lee has long contended the 1989 fire was accidental.

A native of South Korea, Lee became a U.S. citizen about 30 years ago.

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