Man convicted 1970s Tucson hotel fire expected to change plea - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Man convicted in 1970s Tucson hotel fire expected to change plea

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Louis Cuen Taylor Louis Cuen Taylor
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TUCSON, Ariz. -

A Tucson hotel went up in flames and killed 29 people in 1970.

The judge in the trial second-guessed the jury's decision to convict the man and some network TV reports raised questions about the verdict.

After spending 42 years in prison, the man's reportedly going to enter a plea deal that will set him free.

1970s video shows flames shooting out the windows of the Pioneer Hotel, where a Christmas party was being held.

The building did not have a sprinkler system and some exits were locked.

A total of 29 people died and several jumped to their deaths.

Louis Taylor, just 16-years-old at the time, was convicted of setting the fire, even though he helped some guests escape.

He was reportedly known as a trouble-maker and police say he couldn't explain why he was at the hotel.

Taylor was sentenced to life in prison, but the judge second-guessed the jury's decision.

Subsequent reports on "60 Minutes" and Court TV's "The System" raised questions about whether Taylor was wrongly convicted.

Last October, attorneys with the Arizona Justice Project filed a motion asking the case to be dismissed or for an evidentiary hearing. They say evidence does not prove the fire was an arson.

Much of the case evidence is reportedly gone, destroyed or missing.

Last week Taylor, now 58-years-old, reportedly accepted a plea deal that gives him credit for time served.

Tuesday, he's expected to plead no-contest to the charges in exchange for his freedom.

Tucson's newspaper, the Arizona Daily Star, says Taylor initially rejected the deal.

He always maintained his innocence.

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