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Man convicted of setting Pioneer Hotel fire expected to be freed

A man convicted of setting the Tucson Pioneer Hotel fire that killed dozens of people more than 40 years ago is expected to be set free Tuesday.

Louis Taylor was 16 years old when he was convicted of setting the fire. 29 people died, including some who jumped out of windows trying to escape the smoke and flames. Since his arrest and conviction, Taylor has maintained his innocence.

On Tuesday, the 59-year-old is expected to walk out a free man. He will go before a Tucson Superior Court judge and plead no contest to the charges. This means he neither admits nor disputes the charges and will be released with time served.

The Arizona Justice Project, an agency that reviews cases of wrongful convictions, took on Taylor’s case. It asked local and national fire experts to review his case, but they were not able to determine the cause of the fire.

With the help of the Justice Project, Taylor decided to forgo a new and lengthy hearing and get out of prison quickly. Taylor has served more than 40 years. He’s expected to be released after the morning hearing.