CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago man sentenced as a teenager to life in prison for a fatal fire in 1993 has been released from prison after prosecutors, citing advancements in fire science, decided to dismiss the charges.
Adam Gray was 14 when the fire killed two people on the city’s southwest side. His conviction and sentence were based largely on a confession to police, but Gray has maintained his innocence and said the confession was coerced.
Cook County prosecutors recently decided to dismiss the charges against him, saying fire science advancements raised too many questions about his conviction. Gray was released from an Illinois prison on Wednesday, after spending more than 20 years behind bars.
The science advancements date to the early 1990s, but investigators didn’t initially embrace the changes. Gray’s attorneys spent recent years fighting his convictions based on the unreliability of the scientific testimony at his trial.
Gray said Wednesday he felt pressured to talk to detectives who questioned him for seven hours without a parent or guardian present.
“I spent several hours expressing my innocence to the cops. They weren’t trying to hear that. They weren’t receptive to anything I had to say until I said what they wanted me to say,” Gray said. “They put you in a spot where you just want it to stop. You can only take so much.”
Gray said he’s having difficulty believing he is a free man, after spending more than half of his life in prison.
Gray’s attorney, Terri Mascherin, said she was “thrilled” prosecutors dismissed the charges against Gray.
“He never should have been in prison in the first place,” she said. “This fire was an unfortunate accident, and Adam unfortunately ended up being another victim.”
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