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Reasonable Doubt investigate the case of Claude Garrett who’s accused of murdering Lorie Lance Lee by arson

Claude Garrett mugshot
Claude Garrett was charged with setting the fire that killed girlfriend, Lorie Lee Lance. Pic credit: Tenessee Dept. of Corrections

Reasonable Doubt looks at the case of Claude Garrett, who was accused of killing his 24-year-old girlfriend Lorie Lance Lee in 1992 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Lee died of smoke inhalation from the fire that rampaged through the one block cinder home where she lived with 35-year-old Claude Garrett.

The fire started at approximately 5 am; both neighbors and firefighters were quickly alerted to the blaze, and firefighters had to restrain Claude, who kept trying to get back into the house to save Lorie.

However, Claude was eventually arrested and charged with setting the fire that killed his girlfriend. Now, many wonder if the science used to put him behind bars was phony.

Fire investigators immediately noticed signs of arson, including a can of kerosene in the house, and the fire was ruled arson and possible homicide by investigators.

Did Claude Garrett murder Lorie Lance by arson

Suspicion began to fall on Claude; Lorie’s family wondered if he had abused their daughter or if he had felt jealous of her. When Claude went to stay with his mother in Kansas, people wondered why he would appear to skip town.

He was given a lie detector test, which showed signs of deception when he denied setting the fire. Finally, a bartender informed police that Lorie had seemed scared of her partner on the night of the fire. Claude was arrested in Kansas and brought back to Tennessee to face a trial for murder.

In August 1993, a jury found him guilty of first-degree murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison. Claude remains in jail, but many believe he was wrongfully convicted based on circumstantial evidence and on forensic science that has advanced since the 1990s.

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A veteran Tennessee fire investigator is chief among those who believe the fire may have been wrongly attributed to arson. Since the 1990s, several people have been exonerated for arson after fires were discovered to sometimes behave in usual ways that make accidental fires look like they were deliberate.

More from Reasonable Doubt

Follow the links to read about more cases profile on Reasonable Doubt where there is cause to believe the wrong person was convicted of murder.

Celeste Beard is currently behind bars convicted of conspiring to murder her self-made millionaire husband, Steven Beard, with her lesbian lover Tracey Tarlton. Tarlton pulled the trigger, killing Steven and then implicated Celeste in the crime. Some now believe that Tarlton was acting alone, and Celeste is innocent.

Ken Middleton is serving a life sentence for killing his wife, Kathy Middleton, with a shotgun to the head. However, some forensics experts believe he couldn’t have pulled the trigger and think he’s telling the truth when he says it was a tragic accident.

Catch this episode of Reasonable Doubt on Tuesday, March 24, at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but is now based in the...read more

4 thoughts on “Reasonable Doubt investigate the case of Claude Garrett who’s accused of murdering Lorie Lance Lee by arson”

  1. I can’t see how Claude has not had a successful appeal given how new theories on arson have developed to show that the fire was not arson. Most importantly, Claude had no reasonable or plausible motive to kill his girlfriend other than the theories created without reason by the prosecution. He should be freed from prison along with a large check for the years he has been incorrectly imprisoned.

    Reply
    • After further looking into the psychological aspects of this case, I can see a man who loses his temper and was capable of doing destructive things. Maybe he just wanted to scare his girlfriend and the situation got out of control when a fire started. He could have not been as vigorous going back in to save her knowing that she might tell police that he started the fire. This is a man of low substance and maybe he can do more to help others in prison while becoming more civilized and of substance. Yet, killers are routinely paroled. Conversely, his girlfriend died a horrific death. Apparently there was no container of kerosene found. Also, the girlfriend was only wearing underwear that seems to indicate that they were both in bed at the time of the fire. Perhaps the best solution is to grant a new trial !!

      Reply
  2. After further looking into the psychological aspects of this case, I can see a man who loses his temper and was capable of doing destructive things. Maybe he just wanted to scare his girlfriend and the situation got out of control when a fire started. He could have not been as vigorous going back in to save her knowing that she might tell police that he started the fire. This is a man of low substance and maybe he can do more to help others in prison while becoming more civilized and of substance. Yet, killers are routinely paroled. Conversely, his girlfriend died a horrific death. Apparently there was no container of kerosene found. Also, the girlfriend was only wearing underwear that seems to indicate that they were both in bed at the time of the fire. Perhaps, an evidentiary hearing should be heard to examine new evidence regarding arson investigations.

    Reply

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