Louis Taylor Savors Freedom After 40 Years in Prison

By Dianne Walker

Through his tears Louis Taylor could hardly speak when he was interviewed by CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker after being freed from prison after 40-years for something he did not do. “How did this happen?”  exclaimed Taylor. “We live in a country that is supposed to have the best criminal justice system in the world.”

In 1970 Taylor was only 16 years old when he was accused and convicted of 29 counts of murder.  How did this happen?  Taylor was working at the Pioneer Hotel in Tucson when the building perished in a fire that killed 29 people.  Originally, Taylor was regarded as a hero because he rescued people from the burning hotel. Taylor is a trained medical technician so in an emergency his training to save lives took over, but he believes because he is African American his status quickly went from hero to criminal.

Taylor was charged with 29 counts of murder and spent 40 years behind bars for a crime he claims he “did not do.”

Thanks to 60 minutes Investigation, Arizona Justice Project, and his legal team, Taylor is now a free man. Even though a shoddy investigation and racial bias was uncovered, Taylor had to take a plea bargain of “no contest” to 28 counts of murder before being released from prison, but the plea was no bargain for Taylor. He was forced into the plea agreement to avoid a retrial.   The Pima County prosecutor said, “His release doesn’t mean exoneration. His conviction still stands.”

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