Retrial set in 1995 Naperville arson and murder case
William Amor will go to trial Wednesday on charges of first-degree murder and arson in the 1995 death of his mother-in-law in Naperville.
And he's chosen to have his case heard by the very judge who vacated his original 1997 conviction last April. Amor, 62, signed a jury waiver on Thursday, indicating he has elected to have DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan preside over a bench trial.
Amor is being represented by Tara Thompson, a co-teacher of the Exoneration Project, a clinic on wrongful convictions in the Arthur Kane Center for Legal Education at the University of Chicago Law School.
In April, Brennan vacated Amor's 1997 murder conviction on charges he intentionally ignited the September 1995 fire at the condo that he shared with his then-18-year-old wife, Tina Miceli, and her mother, Marianne Miceli.
Marianne Miceli was killed in the blaze after becoming trapped in a bedroom.
The conviction was vacated after Brennan ruled that advances in fire science proved the description Amor gave in his original confession to police was impossible.
Amor has been free on $100,000 bail since May 31.
Amor confessed in 1995 that he started the fire by leaving a smoldering cigarette on a newspaper that had been soaked in vodka. His attorneys have maintained the confession was coerced.
Three fire science experts testified last spring during Amor's new hearing that not only would a cigarette not ignite a newspaper and vodka, but that lab-tested samples found no ignitable liquids at the scene.
On the day of her death, authorities say Marianne Miceli was napping and woke to find the apartment on fire. She called 911, saying she couldn't escape and was being overcome by smoke.
Authorities say Amor and his wife, Tina Miceli, had left the apartment just 20 minutes earlier.
Prosecutors maintain there is sufficient evidence to convict Amor a second time and have referenced a financial motive involving Amor's desire to no longer live with his mother-in-law.
Tina Miceli is expected to testify during the trial.
Had his conviction not been overturned, Amor would have been released from prison in March after serving half his original sentence.
The trial will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday and is expected to last into early February.