Lawsuit: Kent arson suspect kept in jail despite evidence

  • Source: Skagit Valley Herald (
  • Published: 11/29/2018 12:02 PM

A federal lawsuit says a Des Moines grandmother was kept in jail and home confinement for eight months for an arson she didn't commit because a Kent fire investigator withheld evidence that could exonerate her. Linda Poplawski was shopping at a dollar store in Kent in 2016 when she reported a fire to employees. She was arrested after a store worker told police — falsely, Poplawski says — that she had threatened to burn the store down. That same day, however, an anonymous caller told police that a gang member named Michael Poasa admitted setting the fire as a diversion while shoplifting. Poplawski's attorney, Sean Gillespie, says the fire investigator for Kent police, Eric Pedersen, failed to provide information about it to prosecutors. As a result, it was not provided to Poplawski's defense attorneys until the eve of trial — after she had been in jail for a month and on electronic home monitoring for seven more. Prosecutors dropped the case when the evidence came to light.


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