Someone set a house fire that killed a couple but the exact source of the blaze is not known, arson investigators testified Tuesday, dealing a blow to the prosecution's case against a teenager charged with murder.
Tristan Owen, 17, is accused of setting the fire that killed Boyd Haynes, 87, and his wife, Doris Haynes, 86. The couple died of smoke inhalation July 13, 2011, a few hours before they were set to move to an assisted living facility.
Owen is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson. If convicted of murder, he will be sentenced as an adult and could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Prosecutors allege Owen started a fire in a trash container outside the couple's garage, which spread to the structure of their south Oklahoma City home.
Neither investigator, though, could link burned pajama pants found on the defendant's property and remnants of two Molotov cocktails found in front of his house, with the trash can fire.
“Something ignited the trash can, which ignited the house,” Oklahoma City fire Maj. Scott Dallas testified.
“Do we know what that something is?” defense attorney Francis Courbois asked Dallas.
“No we do not,” Dallas replied.
City fire Maj. Les Gay told the jury the fire was intentionally set in a city-issued trash container. But he, too, was unable provide evidence of an accelerant used to start the fire.
“I did not find the source of the ignition,” Gay testified.
Gay told the jury he found remnants of two Molotov cocktails in the street in front of or near the defendant's home along with a Roman candle.
The investigator found shattered Wild Turkey bottles in the street and rolled-up paper towels used as wicks, but said he couldn't tell if the bottles contained flammable liquid or if the wicks ignited the liquid.
Gay also testified about finding burned flannel pajamas next to a trash container where Owen lived with his grandparents about two doors away from the victims.
A witness previously testified Owen ignited the pajama pants in his driveway before the fatal fire.
Jurors visited the scene of the fire Tuesday. The home was torn down and rebuilt, prosecutors said.