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Boston and Beyond

January 1, 2014

New trial is set for man charged in '89 NH fatal fire

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A new trial has been scheduled for a man accused of setting a 1989 fire that killed a family of four in New Hampshire.

David McLeod was charged in 2010 with four counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Carl and Lori Hina, their 4-month-old daughter, Lillian, and Carl Hina’s 12-year-old daughter, Sara. His first trial ended in a mistrial Dec. 19 after jurors failed to reach a verdict after two days of deliberations.

Cheshire County Superior Court Judge John Kissinger refused to grant McLeod bail after declaring the mistrial but said a retrial would have to be scheduled soon. McLeod has been in jail for 3½ years as he awaited trail.

The new trial is set to start April 14, Assistant Attorney General Janice Rundles said Tuesday. McLeod’s lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

During the first trial, prosecutors said McLeod started talking about burning down the apartment house in Keene where his ex-girlfriend lived in the summer of 1988, threatened to torch it three weeks before the January 1989 fire and told three people that night he was going to do it. While horrified residents gathered outside to watch their homes burn, McLeod was jubilant until he realized the Hinas had died, Rundles said.

Defense attorney Caroline Smith countered that McLeod’s cruel statements don’t prove his guilt, that the case was thoroughly investigated in 1989 and that no evidence had emerged to link him to the fire.

Though he was an early suspect, McLeod wasn’t arrested for more than two decades, in part because so many of the witnesses were drunk the night of the blaze or were initially uncooperative with authorities. New Hampshire’s cold case unit picked up McLeod in 2010 in West Sacramento, Calif., where he had moved and raised a family.

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