Friday, February 1, 2013

James Kluppelberg: Freed as a result of scientific advancements in arson investigation - after almost 25 years behind bars - but prosecutors will not take steps necessary to clear his name. Steve Mills. Chicago Tribune.

STORY: "Life after prison: Wrongfully convicted man has trouble moving on and clearing his name," by reporter Steve Mills, published in the Chicago Tribune on January 30, 2013.

PHOTO CAPTION: "James Kluppelberg was released from prison in May after almost 25 years behind bars. He walked out of prison, free after being wrongly convicted of setting a fire that killed 5 people."

GIST: "Kluppelberg was convicted of setting a 1984 fire in the Back of the Yards neighborhood that killed Elva Lupercio, 28, and her five children, ages 3 to 10. Although prosecutors sought the death penalty, he was sentenced to life in prison. He maintained his innocence during his nearly 25 years in prison, but what turned his case around was an advance in science — specifically, what we now know about how fire behaves. Experts concluded that the fire might well have been accidental. A witness who implicated Kluppelberg also admitted he testified falsely against him. Kluppelberg's lawyers also learned that prosecutors failed to turn over information about a woman who admitted setting a fire on the same night as the fatal blaze about a block away; she told officials she had been too drunk to remember whether she also set the fire Kluppelberg was convicted of setting. Cook County prosecutors agreed to vacate Kluppelberg's convictions last May, which led to his release from prison. He filed for a certificate of innocence in August and waited for prosecutors to decide what they will do. Prosecutors told the Tribune last week they had decided to fight his petition. "Based on this review, and significant advancements in the scientific analysis process in arson cases, the case was dismissed due to our inability to meet our burden of proof," Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, said in a statement. "However, we will be objecting to the petition of innocence in this case because we do not feel the evidence is sufficient to establish actual innocence."
The entire story can be found at:,0,5552192.story

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