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Fire analyst testifies in Akron arson suspect’s murder trial

September 9, 2021 GMT

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A prosecution witness in the latest trial of a man accused of killing nine people in separate arson fires in his Akron neighborhood says surveillance video shows a man making repeated attempts to start a fire at one of the residences.

Bradley Barkhurst, an analyst with the Ohio state fire marshal’s office, testified Wednesday at the trial of Stanley Ford, who could be sentenced to death if convicted on multiple aggravated murder charges. He is accused of killing a couple in 2016 and two adults and five children in 2017 .

Summit County prosecutors have said Ford, 62, set the fires because of disputes with his neighbors.

In his testimony, Barkhurst discussed surveillance video footage that showed a man crossing a street, throwing liquid onto a house and attempting to light it on fire. The first two attempts failed, and each time the man ran back across the street, but the blaze ignited on the third try and quickly consumed the home.

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Prosecutors are seeking to tie together the surveillance footage and security alarm records from a nearby home Ford owns in an attempt to link him to the fatal fires. Defense attorney Scott Rilley has said Ford cannot be identified in the surveillance videos and added that other potential suspects were identified.

Ford’s initial trial began in March 2020. After a week of testimony and several delays, Summit County Judge Christine Croce declared a mistrial the following June at the request of Ford’s attorneys, who cited concerns about Ford’s ability to get a fair trial during the coronavirus pandemic.