State drops charges against mom whose murder, arson convictions were overturned

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The state has dropped charges against Kristine Bunch, the Decatur County woman who claimed she was wrongfully convicted of killing her son in a fire in 1995. Bunch was convicted in 1996 of murder and arson, but the Court of Appeals ordered a new trial this year.

Schiff Hardin LLP in Chicago, which defended Bunch, issued a release Tuesday announcing the state’s dismissal of charges stemming from the fire at her home and death of Bunch’s 3-year-old son. She fought the charges in 2006, claiming, among other things, newly discovered evidence in the form of advances in the field of fire science. A split Court of Appeals in March reversed the denial of her quest for post-conviction relief.

Bunch received a 60-year sentence for her son’s death.

“As the Indiana Appellate Court ruled months ago, a jury hearing all of the evidence likely would have found Kristine not guilty,” said the joint statement from Schiff Hardin and the Northwestern Center on Wrongful Convictions. “We do not condemn the State for bringing arson-related charges in 1995. That was the equivalent of the Stone Ages for arson investigations. Today we know so much more about the science of fire. As the new evidence offered by world-renowned experts showed, Kristine could not have set this fire as the State contended. The fire was accidental.”

In August, Bunch was freed from prison after being behind bars for 16 years.



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