Competing Informants In 9 Ohio Fire Deaths Retrial

Published February 13, 2012 9:54PM (EST)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Another jailhouse informant will be added to the mix if a federal court retrial goes forward in the arson deaths of nine in Cleveland, creating a competing informant scenario for skeptical jurors.

The government appealed last week's decision giving 28-year-old Antun Lewis a new trial in the 2005 fire.

A judge threw out the conviction, citing unreliable jailhouse informants. Now the defense says it has its own cellblock informant who claims Lewis was framed.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Lazarus says the informant came forward on his own and, unlike prosecution informants, can't expect lenient treatment.

Federal prosecutors won't discuss trial strategy.

Lorain County Prosecutor Dennis Will, president of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, says jailhouse informants must be carefully checked and, if possible, corroborated. He's unconnected to the case.

By Salon Staff

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