Thursday, May 31, 2012

Innocence Project examines murder conviction

Vodka isn’t flammable.

That basic fact of fire could prove key in the case of William Amor, a DuPage County man serving a 45-year sentence for murder. While not committed to representing Amor, the Illinois Innocence Project based at University of Illinois Springfield has requested documents from prosecutors, who have balked.

Amor, 56, has been locked up since 1995, when his mother-in-law, Marianne Miceli, perished in a fire at a Naperville condominium. After a lengthy interrogation by police, Amor confessed to dousing a newspaper with vodka, dumping an ashtray containing a lit cigarette on the sodden paper, then leaving to catch a movie. Prosecutors say that Amor, who recanted after confessing, had hoped to collect insurance money.

The Innocence Project is interested in Amor but needs more information to evaluate his case, says Erica Nichols Cook, a project attorney. The DuPage County state’s attorney’s office is refusing to turn over documents requested under the state Freedom of Information Act.

In refusing to turn over records that include investigative reports, results of polygraph examinations and expert reports, the state’s attorney’s office in April told the Innocence Project that it is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act because it is a judicial branch of government and the law applies only to legislative and executive branches. It’s an argument that’s been tried before.

Two weeks before the DuPage County state’s attorney rejected the Innocence Project’s request, a judge ruled that the Livingston County state’s attorney, who had argued that he wasn’t subject to FOIA, must turn over records in a 2001 murder case. The case is now on appeal.

The case was featured in an May 31, 2012, article in the Illinois Times.

Read the article online