William "Bill" Amor- Illinois- Convicted in 1997 Jan 2, 2017 0:59:35 GMT -5
Post by Scumhunter on Jan 2, 2017 0:59:35 GMT -5
(Above photo credit: Dailyherald.con)
From the Chicago Daily Herald website:
Methods used to investigate and declare the Sept. 10, 1995, fire that killed 40-year-old Marianne Miceli a murderous arson are mostly the same as methods used today, according to a federal investigator.
The testimony came on day four of William Amor's hearing in which he hopes to be granted a new trial.
Amor, 60, was convicted in 1997 of aggravated arson and the first-degree murder of Miceli, his mother-in-law. He has served nearly half his 45-year sentence and is expected to be paroled in March 2018, yet he's seeking a new trial.
Along with attorneys from the Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois Springfield, Amor is hoping to convince Judge Liam Brennan that the fire investigators who ruled the fire an arson did so using "outdated and discredited techniques."
Defense witnesses who took the stand earlier this week supported that theory. But Senior Special Agent John Golder, who manages the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' Certified Fire Investigator program testified for the state Thursday that he determined the fire to be incendiary and not accidental. He also agreed with most of the original investigation's findings.
"The scientific method and other elements of the investigation were exactly what we do today," Golder said. "The main difference is, I feel, (original investigators) did not account for were the analysis of some of the burn patterns."
In a tape-recorded confession at the time of his arrest, Amor said he started the fire to collect insurance money when he spilled vodka onto a Sunday newspaper, then dropped a cigarette on it to light it, and left with his wife.
Amor's attorneys have maintained the confession was coerced.
Golder said Thursday that not only would a cigarette not ignite a newspaper and vodka, but that lab-tested samples found no ignitable liquids.
Within 20 minutes of Amor and his wife leaving the apartment, the napping Miceli awoke and called 911, saying she could not get out of the burning apartment and was being overcome by smoke.
A dispatcher told her to get low to the floor, but she started coughing and died in her bedroom from smoke inhalation, with the phone cord wrapped around her.
The hearing, believed to be the first of its kind in Illinois involving advancements in fire investigation, is expected to continue Friday morning. Prosecutors expect to put on the rest of their evidence Friday. It is unclear whether Judge Liam Brennan would rule immediately at the conclusion of the hearing or at a later date.
Official Innocence Project page: www.uis.edu/illinoisinnocenceproject/current/thewilliamamorcase/
Thoughts? This is my first Innocence Project case of the month for 2017. I picked it because I think it's a unique case since you have very well respected experts on both sides either crediting or discrediting the scientific methods of old arson investogations. (Here's an article more favorable to Amor's side: www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/naperville-sun/crime/ct-nvs-naperville-arson-hearing-st-1213-20161212-story.html)
I'm my opinion though because there's credible witnesses on both sides, I feel it may be difficult for Amor's attorneys to win a new trial for him. If both sides are credible, is that enough for a new trial? This is NOT to say I think he's guilty after all. Once again, we post these cases to discuss them. Just that there needs to be some sort of overwhelming evidence to win a new trial. Here, I guess it will be up to a Judge to determine which sides' experts he deems more credible.
One thing Amor has going for him is he will likely be released in 2018 anyway. Logic would say why would a guilty guy fight so hard for a new trial when he's going to get out anyway? Others might say parole would still be a pain in the butt. Amor's probably getting out in 2018 could work against him as well. I don't know the Judge in this case and will assume he's an honest and honorable man. But sadly I could see a less honorable judge going "he's getting out in 2018 anyway, why waste taxpayer money on a new trial?"
All I can say if Amor is truly innocent I hope he wins that new trial. But once again it will be up to which experts are deemed more credible, in my opinion, for that to happen.