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UPDATED: Don Kinsela Found Not Guilty of Arson/ Murder

The Easley man had been charged in the 2010 death of his wife.

UPDATED: 1:35PM, Tuesday, December 4, 2012

An Easley man charged with murder and arson in connection with the 2010 death of his wife has been found not guilty by a jury.

A Pickens County jury found Don Kinsela not guilty of murder and arson this afternoon.

Jurors deliberated for less than an hour in the case Kinsela, the Easley man on charged with murder and arson in the 2010 death of his wife, Cheryl Kinsela.

The case was released into the jury’s hands shortly before noon today, and jurors came back with their verdict shortly before 1pm.

Closing arguments began at 9:30 this morning.

Defense attorney Druanne White called the state’s case against her client “preposterous.”

She said the events of July 3, 2010 were nothing more than “a very,very tragic accident.”

She said the state’s case was based around a theory that Don Kinsela had hatched “a crazy scheme” to set the shed on fire while his wife was still inside it.

“This is what the state wants you to believe,” White said,

She said there was no evidence that Cheryl Kinsela had been injured or incapacitated before the fire, and that Don Kinsela had called 911 immediately after the fire in the shed at his home.

“He did not stand there and wait for the fire to burn up,” White said.

She dismissed the state’s claim that Kinsela had given inconsistent statements the day of the fire and afterwards.

“Everything (he said) was consistent with it being an accident,” White said, adding that Kinsela’s statements were “completely, absolutely consistent” with the fire being an accidental vapor fire.

“We know he was telling the truth,” White said. “It was a quick fire, it was impossible to see every detail.”

She attacked the testing done in the investigation, calling it “bad science.” 

She painted a “garbage in, garbage out scenario,” stating that faulty investigative methods had led to wrong assumptions.

She said the state had presented no evidence that a crime had been committed and had not done proper testing of items found at the scene that could have ignited a vapor fire, such as a computer tower, a small fridge and electrical outlets.

She said the state’s case was an empty package delivered in a “spectacular presentation.”

“Do not be part  of the high-tech lynching,” she told the jury.

Solicitor Walt Wilkins said that Don Kinsela had lied to the investigators from the very beginning and that Cheryl Kinsela’s death was premeditated.

Don Kinsela purchased bales of pine straw at Lowe’s two days before the fire and placed them in a shed, in a small space that only Cheryl could easily access, Wilkins said.

“All he’s got to do is get Cheryl in that back, left corner,” Wilkins said.

Wilkins said Kinsela’s story about the fire kept changing, that he first said he’d spilled gasoline on a weed eater, which then ignited.

He then said he’d dropped a container of gas, then told investigators he’d flailed around trying to get a spider off of him, spilling the gas container he’d held all aroun the shed.

Wilkins said Kinsela asked Cheryl to go back to that space and retrieve some fans, then lit the spilled gasoline

He said testing had eliminated other sources of ignition, including the computer tower, the fridge and static electricity. 

“All that’s left is Don Kinsela, a lighter and two cans of gasoline,” Wilkins said.

He said the pine straw would not have burned quickly at all  - unless it had been doused in gasoline.

Kinsela told investigators his feet had been set ablaze in the fire, but there was no evidence of that, Wilkins said.

He said Kinsela only had singeing on the backs of his hands and atop his head, consistent, Wilkins said, with leaning down to light gasoline, then leaning back as it caught fire.

Wilkins said he was disappointed with the verdict

“We were certainly shocked at the quickness of the verdict,” Wilkins said. “It was a complicated, very scientific case. It’s a little surprising that they came back this quick. However, we feel that the justice system worked as it’s supposed to work. The state presented its case – the state believed in its case. We believed we had significant evidence and enough to easily prove over a reasonable doubt. These twelve jurors saw it differently, as is their right, and they came to a different conclusion.

“That’s why we have jury trials and the criminal justice system,” Wilkins continued. “It’s a good day for the criminal justice system in general.” 

Don Kinsela, who was indicted last year, chose not to testify in his own defense on Monday afternoon.

DAVID COX December 04, 2012 at 11:57 PM
sounds as though the jurors were ready to go home...if anyone could see the building she died in, and how small of space there was, you would wonder how someone could be so cowardly to sit back and and just watch the building smolder. she was unable to get out because she was locked in. it takes less than one second to go 14 feet to get out. it don't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. also, the judge in the case would not allow all the facts in the case to be entered in. i did not personally sit in on the trial but i heard from someone that key pieces of his past was not permitted in the trial therefore the motive, money, was not revealed. let's say it did happen the way he says, who in their right mind would sit back and watch their spouse expire in a fire, or anyone for that matter! if you could see how small this shed was anyone would have to question the validity of his statements which he changed several times.
brenda December 05, 2012 at 02:17 AM
It's a Sad Day! Cheryl told more than one person-iffff anything ever happened to her - he did it! Well. Well! He walks out the door free! Bunch of idiots! Pickens County-Need I say more.
Don December 09, 2012 at 02:15 AM
David again you speak with out knowing what you are talking about, There was no door and no lock. This was a flash fire, Vapor fire., and it was proved. How dair you sit in judgement over this when you were not there to see and here the lies told by ATF and SLED. thank God that there are people that have way more sence that you.
Don December 09, 2012 at 02:24 AM
And again another lie Brenda. If that were the truth would her Sister, Brothers And mom and dad, and daughter, have not been told that by her. Just one more evil rumor that a evil person with a evil mind and a runny mouth. Be sure to know that our familys are praying for you. Thank you God that the jury that was there to here all the lies had the sence to know it was just that. The only Idiots I see are you and David Cox. God Bless you and may he also open your eyes to his word. If you ever read it you would have never written this. My family and my wifes family Will pray for both of you.
DAVID COX December 09, 2012 at 12:04 PM
i hear ya Don...i did see the shed where Cheryl was murdered. as a matter of fact, i walked right by it entering the back yard. looked around and thought for a second i was at the wrong house. if not been for the small strip of black smoke above the door i would have left. my first thought was how does someone get trapped in an area this small? i never heard the dimensions of the shed, but i guess the size was an 12x16 or 12x18. after hearing the media talk about this huge building she and you built i guess i was expecting something different than a 150 square ft shed. i remember standing at the fence looking in and wondering what kinda fire this was. other than the strip of black smoke above the door, the shed looked new. you need not pray for me Don, i did not commit murder nor arson.

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