Crime Trackers

Aug 12, 2013 12:47 AM by Lupita Murillo

Arson charges dismissed in 2009 Barrio Warehouse fire

TUCSON - Arson charges are dismissed against a Tucson business owner.

Robert Gibson was accused of setting fire to his business in "The lost barrio" warehouses near downtown in 2009.

Gibson faced the possibility of going to prison, and dying there.

His attorneys argued before Superior Court Judge Paul Tang about a change in the rules regarding expert witness testimony.

So what caused the nearly $1,000,000 blaze?

Sean Chapman represents Robert Gibson. "There's a significant possibility that the fire was started by linseed oil."

Prosecutor Malena Acosta is convinced Robert Gibson set the fire for the money. "They were barely keeping above water, basically robbing Peter to pay Paul."

A claim Gibson's wife vehemently denies. Podie Porter says, "This would never happen in a million years that he would purposely set a fire."

Michael Bloom, and Sean Chapman represent the Gibson's. For three years they've been working on the case. Bloom says, "This is a massive investigation, the Gibson's are required in order to defend themselves to spend their life savings." He says friends even pitched in to help.

It's the attorneys and the experts the Gibson's hired who got the arson case dismissed before Judge Paul Tang. Judge Tang issued a 16 page ruling detailing his concerns. In it he states the Tucson Fire and ATF investigator failed to meet the national standards set in 2011 for fire investigations. The prosecutor says, "The standard they were using was from 2008. I believe that even under the 2011 investigation was reliable the results were reliable but the court found otherwise." Acosta could appeal Judge tang's decision. "In order to win on an appeal the judge would have had to abuse his discretion essentially . Our appellate unit here found it's not a case that we would win."

Then there was the financial component of the case. Bloom says he interviewed numerous business associates, and bankers who all said the same thing. "Bob Gibson has been a very good customer, a very trusted client, and we're happy to have him and there was no financial stress of any kind."

Everything Podie Porter knew about her husband of 40 years. "To truly believe that in the end, the truth would prevail."

While the judicial process took its toll on the Gibson family they did find strength and hope in the Lost Barrio.

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