A former Naperville resident who spent two decades imprisoned for arson and murder in the death of his mother-in-law was acquitted of those crimes Wednesday by a DuPage County judge who called the case “fatally compromised.”
As Judge Liam Brennan was finishing reading his ruling in the retrial of William Amor, the defendant — aware he was about to be found not guilty — let his head drop and took off his glasses a moment later to wipe away tears. Lauren Kaeseberg, one Amor’s attorneys from the Illinois Innocence Project, who was seated next to Amor, quietly placed her hand on his back.
“I’ve always been hopeful. I’ve always thought essentially that the system would do the right thing,” Amor, 62, said afterward. “It’s unfortunate it took 22 years.”
Amor thanked Brennan, who vacated Amor’s 1997 murder conviction last year in the wake of advances in fire science that undercut his 1995 confession. Amor had been out on bond since May.
Following closing arguments earlier this month, Brennan set Wednesday for his ruling to give himself time to review evidence, which included testimony from three arson experts.
A prosecution expert had testified that he believed the Sept. 10, 1995, fire that killed Marianne Miceli, 40, was set using an open flame on a living room cloth chair. But the judge said that opinion presented a highly unlikely timeline of how the fire spread.
Read more about the case and junk science here