Forensic Electrical Engineer, Daniel Chowdek, testified as to his inspection of the building’s electrical system following the May, 2013 fire that destroyed the structure. Chowdek told jurors that, following protocol, he conducted his investigation working from the outside in, from the least damage to the most damage. He said his investigation showed that the fire was in the room before it was above the ceiling, and he told jurors that the electrical circuits in the ceiling were not shorted out. He said his investigation led him to believe that electrical did not play a role in the fire. Under cross examination, Chowdek answered that there was one circuit to the room’s video cabinet, and that, while the cords leading to the cabinet were burned, the cabinet itself was not. He said the physical evidence speaks for itself.
The other expert witness to take the stand Thursday afternoon was Terry Johnson of the Iowa State Fire Marshall’s Office. Johnson testified that his investigation into the cause of the blaze began with an inspection of the exterior of the building, before moving to an inspection of the building’s interior. Johnson displayed photos that he had taken during the course of his investigation, that showed fire and smoke damage in the south part of the building. Johnson testified that there was heavy charring on the door to the storage room. He told the jury that he also investigated the building’s air conditioning system, and was able to rule that out as the cause of the blaze. Johnson said that his investigation indicated that the fire had burned longest in the building’s storage room.
Kristina Manasil of Sheldon is on trial for First Degree Arson and Insurance Fraud in connection with the May, 2013 blaze that destroyed the business she owned, Buddz’s and the Rec Bowl in Sheldon.
The trial will reconvene tomorrow morning at 9:00 am at the O’Brien County Courthouse in Primghar.
Previous stories on the Manasil Trial can be found here.