With conviction in 1995 death vacated, Naperville man released on bail
William Amor is a free man for the first time since his 1995 arrest on charges that he committed the arson murder of his mother-in-law.
Amor found out Sunday that a childhood friend would be traveling from Indiana to DuPage County Jail Tuesday afternoon to post the required 10 percent of Amor's $100,000 bail. The man, Randy Anderson, declined to comment. Amor's attorneys said friends and family pooled their resources, in addition to a Funded Justice campaign to post Amor's $10,030 bail.
"I haven't slept much or eaten much since (Sunday). I haven't done much of anything but wait for this moment," Amor said outside the jail, wearing regular clothes for the first time since 1995. "It's not something you can really prepare for. I'm overwhelmed. I'm thankful for everything."
DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan on May 10 set a Sept. 12 trial date for Amor on charges that Amor 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.
Brennan vacated the 1997 conviction last month after ruling that advances in fire science have proved the description Amor gave in his original confession to police was impossible, and set the $100,000 bail.
"All we've ever asked for, from the very beginning, is for someone to see the truth," Amor said. "This judge (Brennan) did that."
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 during Amor's December 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.
Within 20 minutes of Amor and his wife leaving the apartment, the napping Miceli woke and called 911, saying she could not get out of the burning apartment and was being overcome by smoke.
A dispatcher told her to get low to the floor, but she started coughing and died in her bedroom from smoke inhalation with the phone cord wrapped around her.
Lauren Kaeseberg, legal director of the Illinois Innocence Project's Chicago office representing Amor, reiterated Tuesday that they believe the fire was an accident and Amor should have never been charged with the crime.
"We are ecstatic to be here today looking up at the clouds and breathing the fresh air with Bill," she said. "It's really great."
Kaeseberg said Amor was going "further into the suburbs" but declined to say where he would be going after leaving jail.
Amor, who was set to be paroled next March after serving half of his 45-year sentence, said he occasionally has bitter feelings but is now focused on winning his complete freedom at his September trial.
"As we go along and I get through this battle, this will help someone else," he said. "And I intend to help others."
Amor is next due in court on June 9 to discuss any pretrial motions, including a motion filed recently by Amor's attorneys to dismiss all charges, citing a lack of evidence.