ATLANTA (AP) - A Superior Court judge has dismissed a murder
indictment against a businessman who was accused of killing his
wife by setting fire to their house.
Judge Rowland Barnes cited lack of a speedy trial in his ruling
Monday in the case of Weldon Wayne Carr, the owner of Hastings
Nature & Garden Center.
Carr was convicted in 1994 of murdering his wife, Patricia, by
arson and sentenced to life imprisonment. The prosecution argued
that Carr set the fire after discovering she was trying to divorce
him for another man.
The state Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1997. The
court said, among other things, that the prosecutor relied on
evidence found by an accelerant-sniffing dog even though it wasn't
shown that use of a dog was scientific.
Carr had been free on bond since 1998.
Defense lawyer Don Samuel said District Attorney Paul Howard
made a commitment in 1997 to dismiss the case if an outside expert
reviewed the scientific evidence and could not conclude it was
arson. No expert was hired until 2001.
Defense lawyers argued that the fire, which erupted while the
couple was asleep, was an accident. Carr escaped through a window
and called for help. Firefighters rescued Patricia Carr, but she
died later at the hospital.
Howard said circumstances made it clear that Carr was guilty.
"Two days before she was killed, she was contacting a divorce
attorney," Howard said. "She was going to take half his fortune,
and it's just not a coincidence that this woman winds up dead."
Howard said he would appeal the case to the Supreme Court
because he disagreed with the judge that Carr had suffered harm
from the delay.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)