EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. (November 29, 2023) – The Caldor Fire preliminary hearing resumed on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, delving into the crucial testimony linking the accused, Davis and Shane Smith, to the ignition point of the destructive blaze that swept through the county.
The courtroom witnessed revelations on the first day, suggesting that the father and son were in close proximity to the fire on a day marked as “Tender Dry,” attempting to “Stomp Out” the flames. However, their attorneys vehemently dismissed the prosecution’s theory that the fire was sparked by gunfire, labeling it as far-fetched.
The second day of proceedings unfolded with an investigator, John Robertson from the El Dorado District Attorney’s office, shedding light on the use of cellphone and GPS data. Robertson testified that the Smiths’ connection to the fire’s origin was established through meticulous analysis of their movements.
“We were trying to identify what devices were in the area in and around the time of the fire,” Robertson explained.
Cellphone data revealed David Smith’s phone in the vicinity, while GPS data extracted from the Smiths’ Polaris Razor ATV pinpointed the vehicle at the site of the fire’s origin. According to Robertson,
Robertson said the GPS data showed the Razor leaving David Smith’s house in Somerset at 4:49 p.m. the night the fire began and arriving at the point of origin of the fire at 6:10 p.m., where it remained for 21 minutes.
Robertson said the vehicle then left and stopped at 6:48 p.m., the time that corresponded with the 911 call Shane Smith made to report the fire, then returned to David Smith’s home at 7:31.
Notably, Cal Fire reported on the blaze’s commencement at 6:54 p.m.
However, defense attorneys, Linda Parisi and Mark Reichel, criticized the investigation during cross-examination, suggesting potential suspects were overlooked. Robertson admitted he did not explore GPS data for other individuals in the area during the fire’s start, as suggested by the defense.
Tuesday’s key testimony included Robert Bossard, a witness who recalled seeing two men on an ATV before and after hearing gunshots near the location the fire started. Bossard testified that after seeing the ATVs go to the fire ignition location and hearing rapid fire gunshots, the men returned, warning of a fire they had unsuccessfully attempted to stomp out.
The courtroom was witness to a complex narrative weaving together technology, eyewitness accounts, and legal scrutiny. Stay tuned for further updates on this pivotal case.