Sunday night’s episode of CBS’ 60 Minutes featured a segment on Louis Taylor, a man who was wrongfully convicted of setting the 1970 Pioneer Hotel fire in Tucson, Arizona which took the lives of 29 people.
Taylor, who is represented by the
Arizona Justice Project
, has maintained his innocence for more than 40 years. On the night of the fire, 16-year-old Taylor arrived at the hotel to attend a Christmas party. He was arrested shortly after by police who claimed he had set the fire as a distraction so he could burglarize hotel rooms.
The fire science that was used by investigators in 1970 that led them to label the fire as arson has changed significantly. The Arizona Justice Project continues to focus on the flawed fire science at the heart of the case. In the episode, fire science expert John Lentini explains the limitations of fire investigation to
“It has been very common for people to start with the proposition that the fire is set. If they can’t find an innocent cause for it, they say, well somebody must have set it. That presumes that we’re good enough fire investigators that we can find the cause of every fire and that’s simply not true.”