After prison term, man wins appeal over arson conviction

SOUTHGATE, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan appeals court has overturned the arson conviction of a man who insists he had no financial incentive to destroy his profitable pawn shop in suburban Detroit.

Judge Paul Cusick wouldn't allow defense witnesses to testify about Joshua Burger's insurance coverage and personal finances at the time of the fire in 2017.

It "deprived defendant of the ability to fully mount the defense that he had no financial motive to defraud the insurance company or set the building on fire," the appeals court said in a 3-0 decision on Feb. 25.

Wayne County prosecutors are asking the court to reconsider the opinion.

Burger served 15 months in prison. His lawyer had argued that the fire at Pawn Max in Southgate probably was caused by an oily rag used to clean up a guitar.

Published: Wed, Mar 11, 2020