Pacemaker data can be used as evidence in arson trial, judge rules

Posted at 9:37 PM, Jul 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-12 12:35:56-04

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- For what could be the first time, a judge has ruled that data collected by a suspect's pacemaker can be introduced as evidence in an arson trial, the Journal-News reported Tuesday.

Ross Compton, 59, was charged with arson in January after police said he gave statements "inconsistent with evidence" about a Sept. 19 fire that caused $400,000 in damages at his Middletown home. 

Compton claimed to have packed some of his belongings in a suitcase when he saw the fire, thrown them out of a window and then carried them to his car. According to a cardiologist who reviewed his pacemaker data, it was unlikely he could have taken those actions, given his medical condition.

"It is highly improbable Mr. Compton would have been able to collect, pack and remove the number of items from the house, exit his bedroom window and carry numerous large and heavy items to the front of his residence during the short period of time he has indicated due to his medical conditions," according to court documents.

Compton's attorney argued that using the pacemaker data was unfair and represented an invasion of privacy, but Common Pleas Judge Charles Pater ruled against him.

Compton will stand trial Dec. 4.

The Journal-News is a partner of WCPO.