Man held for 42 years in deadly Arizona hotel fire set to be released

Apr 2, 2013 - by - 0 Comments

April 2, 2013 MSNBC

An Arizona man who has maintained for 42 years that he had nothing to do with a horrific hotel fire that killed more than two dozen people is set to be freed from prison Tuesday.

Louis Cuen Taylor was just 16 years old when he was sentenced to multiple consecutive life sentences for a fire that ripped through the Pioneer Hotel, a Tucson landmark that went up in flames in December 1970 while employees of an aircraft company were there for a Christmas party. 

Taylor, who is black, claims police pinned the crime on him and an all-white jury gave him an unfair trial. A 2002 examination of his case by CBS' "60 Minutes" found evidence that he had been railroaded and led volunteer legal group The Arizona Justice Project to take on his case.

On Tuesday, Taylor is expected to be released as part of a deal with prosecutors in which he will be forced to plead no contest in the case. 

The blaze killed 29 people: Some jumped to their deaths, others were trapped in their rooms because fire truck ladders weren't long enough to reach upper floors, but most victims died from carbon-monoxide poisoning inside the hotel.

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