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Illinois Innocence Project Clears Man Once Accused Of 1995 Fatal Arson

Illinois Innocence Project lawyer, Lauren Kaeseberg, and Bill Amor
Illinois Innocence Project lawyer, Lauren Kaeseberg, and Bill Amor

An Illinois man was found "not guilty” today for an arson case dating back to 1995. Bill Amor already spent 22 years in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit.

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Amor lived in Naperville in an apartment he shared with his wife and her mother. A fire at that apartment  in 1995 killed his mother-in-law.  Amor says he was at a movie with his wife when the fire broke out. Law enforcement at the time immediately pinned Amor as a suspect.

He spent two weeks in jail and after hours of grueling questioning, he gave in and offered a false confession. That's what a lawyer for the Illinois Innocence Project, Lauren Kaeseberg, says.

"Bill wanted to make the questioning stop, which is the phenomena we see with false confessions," she said. "He presumably thought this would all work itself out later. He was psychologically traumatized."

Kaeseberg says advances in forensics also proved that the way Amor had originally claimed to start the fire was physically impossible. He was acquitted based in part on that evidence. 

Amor had been out of prison since last May when he was granted a new trial. He's the eleventh person exonerated by the Illinois Innocence Project. The project collaborated with lawyers from the Exoneration Project, Wrongful Conviction Division for the Iowa State Public Defender, and of the law firm Cozen O’Connor.

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Rachel's reports currently focus on education and equity. She's also reported extensively on arts, community & diverse culture.