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Man Released After 41 Years of Imprisonment

Due to a lack of evidence, a man who was held in prison in Arizona for 41 years has been released. A Gannett news story tells the story of the man who was accused of starting a deadly fire at a downtown Tucson hotel in 1970 and, as a result, convicted of 28 counts of murder in 1972. This man's story is an important illustration of how the criminal justice system can take wrong turns, leading to the unjust imprisonment of individuals who have not truly been proven guilty. It also shows the importance of having a strong criminal defense lawyer who will protect your rights after you are accused of a crime.

Arizona Justice Project attorneys representing the 59-year-old prisoner fought to have the conviction tossed out due to the fact that the science on fires has drastically changed since the 1970s, according to the article. The lawyers stated that there was actually no concrete evidence that arson was the cause of the hotel fire that led to the death of nearly three dozen people. In efforts to work out a deal, the man agreed to plea to and be found guilty of 28 counts of murder, which served as a pathway to the individual's freedom. He entered the no-contest plea on April 2, 2013.

The prisoner, who was 16 at the time of the fire, became a suspect of the hotel fire after a hotel employee reported seeing a suspicious African-American youth on the premises. The then-teenager was arrested hours after the incident after he failed to provide law enforcement officer with a good reason for being at the hotel, as outlined in the news story. He was questioned for six hours and then arrested for juvenile charges of trespassing, despite the fact that hotel employees testified at the teenager's 1972 trial that he had had tried to help put out the fire and carry the fire victims to safe locations. The defendant stood by his claim of innocence.

It turned out that these factors were not enough to prevent a serious conviction for the youth. He spent decades in prison before his story caught the attention of the right people. The news show "60 Minutes" had aired a story about the man in 2002, which led to volunteer attorneys at the Arizona Justice Project learning of his case and subsequently working to get him out of prison. (The Arizona Justice Project, which has been around since 1998, has reviewed more than 3,500 cases related to possible wrongful convictions, according to the group's website.) Just recently, the man's story was again featured on "60 Minutes," according to the article.

Sadly, this man is not the only individual who has been wrongfully convicted and forced to spend a good portion of his life being unfairly imprisoned. These types of cases have occurred all over the nation. There are many reasons individuals can be wrongfully convicted of crimes. According to Northwestern University's Bluhm Legal Clinic, some common causes include false eyewitness identification, police misconduct (false confessions that were obtained through coercion) and systems that offer incentives for "snitching."

Considering the very real threat of wrongful convictions, it is vital that you have the strongest defense plan when you come up against criminal charges. You need an attorney who is capable of finding weaknesses in the prosecutor's case against you, including a possible lack of strong evidence. A good attorney will also be able to ensure that your rights are properly being upheld throughout the entire criminal justice process. Because Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Joshua Davidson is a former prosecutor, he is even better equipped to challenge the opposition in your case. He has extensive experience, as he has conducted more than 70 jury trials and has additionally tried hundreds of cases before judges. Contact the Law Offices of Joshua S. Davidson, PLC to learn more about how the attorney can stand up for your rights and your freedom.