Crime Trackers

Apr 1, 2013 10:16 PM by Lupita Murillo

Man in prison for 42 years set to go free

TUCSON - In a matter of hours the man convicted of starting Tucson's Pioneer fire, that killed nearly 30 people could walk free.

Louis Taylor is scheduled to plead "no contest" Tuesday in front of Judge Richard Fields for a sentence of time already served.

A controversial case now coming to a close with new evidence from the Arizona Justice Project.

For nearly 43 years, Louis Taylor has been sitting in prison. On the 25th anniversary of the Pioneer Fire, he spoke to News 4 Tucson's Lupita Murillo. On December 20, 1995 Taylor said, "Its just something really tragic. There isn't a day that goes by that I never think about that. I think about it all the time because I know in my heart and God knows that they got the wrong person. I was at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Jake Crellin was the News Director at Ch. 4, and was the first newsperson on the scene. His images of fire coming out of windows, and people tying bed sheets to escape the burning building are still vivid in his mind.

"I arrived with the first fire apparatus and there were flames coming out of the ninth story," he said.

Crellin says he called his four member news crew to cover the fire.

"It was a very sad night it really was. And I will never forget it. And I still have flashbacks from time to time from some of the stuff I saw. Flashbacks of people jumping out of windows to their death. To avoid looking at what I was seeing, you look through the ground glass of the camera and it helped it make a little easier to watch."

He says even back then Louis Taylor claimed he was innocent.

"Oh yes, he always has and he had some very tough interviews with the police," he said.

Interviews that prosecutor Rick Unklesbay went over as well as the transcripts from the trial.

"At sentencing what the judge told Louis Taylor was that he had the best defense case the judge had ever seen and although he didn't believe Louis Taylor meant to hurt anybody he thought the evidence was sufficient."

To view the memorandum in support of dining post conviction relief and plea agreement, click the link below:

TaylorMemorandum.pdf

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