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Woman wrongfully convicted of killing 3 kids in house fire released from California prison

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 1/13/2021 David Matthews

A woman who was wrongfully convicted of murdering her three children in a house fire in 1993 has been released from prison.

In 1989, JoAnn Parks’ kids were killed in an electrical fire in their bedroom in Los Angeles. However, faulty science led investigators to conclude it was arson and Parks was arrested, tried and convicted. She was sentenced to life without parole, according to The California Innocence Project.

a person in a blue shirt: Joann Parks is pictured in an undated photo. © Provided by New York Daily News Joann Parks is pictured in an undated photo.

Joann Parks is pictured in an undated photo.

In 2011, after more than two decades of advances in fire science, an an Arson Review Panel review Parks’ case and concluded the fire was most likely an accident and the experts who testified against Parks were not properly educated in how fire behaves.

“Ultimately, the Panel concluded that, by modern standards, none of the allegedly incriminating evidence against Joann would withstand scrutiny today,” the Innocence Project attorneys said. “The investigators and jury were misled by bad science, or no science at all.”

Tuesday, after years of working with the California Innocence Project, Parks, 54, was finally released from prison, more than nine months after Gov. Gavin Newsome granted her clemency and the parole board agreed to release her. Parks was the first person sentenced to life without parole to be granted a parole hearing, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

“Nothing could be worse than losing your children and then being wrongfully convicted of their murder,” Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project, said in a statement. “As we learn more about the science of fires, hopefully these kinds of wrongful convictions will no longer occur.”


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