After serving 16 years in prison, Kristine Bunch, 38, was freed Wednesday, following the Indiana Court of Appeals March ruling that granted her a new trial in the state-alleged arson murder of her young son in a mobile home fire.
The Appeals court found that the forensic evidence used to convict Bunch was outdated and discredited and that prosecutors withheld from the defense a lab report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms allegedly indicating no presence of kerosene. Both undermine prosecutors’ theory of the child’s death.
The state appealed the Court of Appeals decision to the Indiana Supreme Court, which declined to accept the case.
Bunch was serving a 60-year sentence. She was released on $5,000 bond and stepped out of jail into the arms of her mother and her 16-year-old son, Trenton. She was pregnant at the time of her conviction; the two were separated after his birth by prison bars. The state will decide whether or not to retry Bunch, who hopes someday to go to law school.
Thanks to the Center on Wrongful Convictions (Northwestern University Law School) attorneys Jane Raley and Karen Daniel, Indiana local counsel Hillary Bowe Ricks and pro bono attorneys Ronald Safer and Kelly Warner from the Chicago firm of Schiff Harden LLP for their work on this case.
Read the most recent prior report on this case on this blog here.