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Mar 29, 2013 9:22 PM

Plea deal may free man convicted in Pioneer Hotel fire

TUCSON - News 4 Tucson has learned the man convicted of setting the deadly Pioneer Hotel fire more than 40 years ago may be a free man on Tuesday.

Louis Taylor's been in prison the last 42 years for arson at the hotel. That location is now known as the "pioneer office building" downtown.

Twenty-eight people died in that fire and another died later from injuries.

Taylor has always maintained his innocence and the Arizona justice program took on his case to free him.

Recently 7 arson investigators, including one from the Tucson Fire Department came to the same conclusion.

The cause of the fire is still officially undetermined but recent forensics suggest it could have been sparked by fluorescent lighting.

"Basically its like DNA, medical science, the testing knowledge has improved over the last 40 years and when you look at it today it's determined we don't know if the Pioneer fire was accidently set or whether it was arson," Tucson attorney Michael Piccarreta said.
The Pima County Attorney's office tells News 4 that on Tuesday Taylor will be in a Tucson courtroom to enter a plea to 28 counts of murder in the 1970 fire.

In return for the plea, Taylor will be found guilty by the court and sentenced to the 42 years he has already served.

He could be released as a free man at the age of 59.

The Pima County Attorney's Office issued this statement:

On Tuesday, April 2nd at 10:00 am in Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields, Louis Taylor is scheduled to enter a plea to 28 counts of murder in the 1970 fire at the Pioneer Hotel. In return for the entry of this plea, Mr. Taylor will be found guilty by the court and sentenced to the 42 years he has served in prison. Efforts have been made to locate and discuss the plea with surviving victims of the fire, many of whom plan to be present at Tuesday's hearing. On Tuesday following the hearing the Pima County Attorneys Office will hold a press conference.

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