Longtime Arizona Justice Project client, Louis Taylor, was freed April 2, 2013 after spending 42 years in prison.
Louis Taylor has always maintained his innocence of the 1970 Pioneer Hotel fire that took 29 lives. Attorneys from the Arizona Justice Project spent years re-investigating this case, discovering evidence that was never disclosed to Taylor's attorney and confirming the snitch testimony leading to Taylor's conviction was false. A national Arson Review Committee, led by John Lentini, reviewed the evidence and 1972 expert conclusions used to convict Taylor and, after applying today's standards of fire investigation, concluded there was no evidence to support the cause fire was arson. The Tucson Fire Department conducted its own review and concluded the cause of the fire was "undetermined." In addition, the defense expert in Louis trial -- long-troubled by Louis' conviction -- spent more than a decade reinvestigating the fire, and now believes that under today's knowledge and investigative standards the cause of the Pioneer Hotel fire cannot be determined.
Based largely on these findings, the Arizona Justice Project team sought relief for Louis Taylor.
Granted releasOn April 2, 2013, Taylor was granted his freedom after the Pima County Attorney's Office offered him a deal to plead no contest in exchange for his immediate release from prison.
"For Louis, freedom has been a long time coming, for too long," said Larry Hammond, founder of the Arizona Justice Project and attorney for Louis Taylor. "Louis has spent his entire adult life in prison for a crime that he didn't commit. The fire at the Pioneer Hotel was a tragedy -- and our hearts, and Louis', go out to the victims and their families -- but no credible expert today could conclude that the fire was arson, let alone that Louis was the arsonist."