Ind. mom convicted in son's death in fire released

Associated Press
Kristine Bunch, right, hugs her mother Susan Hubbard, after being released in Greensburg, Ind., Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, for the first time after16 years in prison.  Bunch was convicted of setting a 1995 fire that killed her 3-year-old son, but is free on bail as she awaits a new trial. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Charlie Nye)  NO SALES
.

View gallery

Kristine Bunch, right, hugs her mother Susan Hubbard, after being released in Greensburg, Ind., Wednesday, …

GREENSBURG, Ind. (AP) — Kristine Bunch hugged her mother and her teenage son, basking in the warm Indiana sunshine for the first time Wednesday afternoon following 16 years behind bars for a murder she said all along she didn't commit.

Jailers released the grinning 38-year-old woman, who had traded her olive green jail clothes for a new dress, less than a half-hour after a Decatur County judge granted her $5,000 cash bail at the suggestion of prosecutors. The state plans to try her again on murder and arson charges for the 1995 fire that killed her 3-year-old son.

The whirlwind that followed her arrest in 1996, when she was accused of setting the blaze that destroyed her Greensburg mobile home and claimed her son Tony's life, seemed like a bad dream at the time, Bunch said. "I was in shock," she said.

Being released from prison was like a dream, too, but "in a good way," she said.

"Now, it's like I can't believe it's happening," Bunch said.

The Indiana Court of Appeals last week ordered the local court to allow Bunch's release on bond while she awaits her second trial. The appeals court ordered a new trial in March, finding that the evidence used to convict her was outdated, weak and wrongly withheld from the defense.

Bunch's attorney, Ron Safer, said prosecutors "did exactly the right thing" by asking for a low bond, but he was disappointed they still planned another trial in light of scientific advances that he said suggest there was no real evidence of arson.

Prosecutors have had little to say except that they are seeking a gag order to restrict attorneys' public comments on the case. A hearing on their request is scheduled for Aug. 30, and Bunch was ordered to attend.

In the meantime, Bunch said she will live with her 58-year-old mother, Susan Hubbard, and her 16-year-old son, Trenton, in nearby Columbus, Ind. The family was taking Bunch out Wednesday night for her first meal besides prison food in years, at a seafood restaurant in Columbus.

Bunch said she looked forward to doing the everyday things that most people take for granted, like shopping, eating out, and using the Internet, which she has never seen.

"I can learn how to Facebook," she said. "All my friends tell me they're on Facebook."

But of all the technological changes since she was last out of prison, Bunch said cellphones, which have evolved from unwieldy boxes with thick antennas to sleek little machines, impress her the most.

"I'm amazed by the cellphones," she said.

Television and frequent visits by her mother and son kept her aware of changes in the outside world. "He introduced me to Harry Potter," Bunch said of her son. Now, she hopes to be able to teach the teen how to drive.

Bunch was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 1996 after a Decatur County jury convicted her of murder and arson. The same judge who sentenced her denied a 2006 petition for post-conviction relief based on new evidence.

Prosecutors said Bunch poured kerosene in the bedroom of her son, Tony, and the living room of their mobile home and lit it on fire. No clear motive was ever established, but they said Bunch had asked a friend to take custody of the boy about a year before the fire so she could "get away from it all" and that she had made inconsistent statements about the blaze.

The Center on Wrongful Convictions said investigators at the time misinterpreted burn patterns as indicating an accelerant and that there was no evidence of arson. They also argued that advances in toxicology showed the child would have died from fire, not smoke inhalation, had the blaze been set in his room.

"It was horrible, but I knew if I held on to my faith that justice would prevail. The truth usually has a way of coming out," Hubbard, Bunch's mother, said.

Bunch said a prison ministry helped her maintain her faith while she was in prison. "I knew it was going to work out in the end," she said.

While locked up, Bunch earned her GED and a college degree. She said she plans to go to law school if acquitted. She wants to work in criminal law, representing inmates who have been wrongfully convicted.

"There's still a lot of work to be done. There's still a lot of people in my situation," Bunch said.

_____

Follow Charles Wilson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CharlesDWilson .

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Man convicted of 3 murders as teen kills himself in prison

      CAMP HILL, Pa. (AP) — A man who broke into a classmate's home in 2007 and stabbed the teenager and his parents to death has killed himself in prison, authorities said Monday.

      Associated Press
    • Trump slapped with federal lawsuit in New York

      A group of American lawyers on Monday filed a federal lawsuit in New York against Donald Trump, accusing the US president of violating a constitutional ban on accepting payments from foreign governments. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is pursuing Trump over his vast business holdings, from which the billionaire has refused to divest fully, saying that as president he can have no conflict of interest. CREW says Trump's business properties abroad operate based partly on goodwill from foreign governments and regulators, but that under the US Constitution no federal official can receive a gift or "emolument" from a foreign government.

      AFP
    • 12 bodies found in Mexican tourist town: officials

      A dozen bodies -- including seven that were headless and mutilated -- were discovered over the weekend in western Mexico's seaside resort of Manzanillo, apparent victims of the country's epidemic of drug violence, local officials said. It was a shocking turn of events for an area popular with American and other foreign tourists, which until now had largely been spared from the bloody drug wars wracking other parts of Mexico. Seven bodies were found early Saturday in an abandoned taxi on the road from Manzanillo to the town of Cihuatlan.

      AFP
    • The Sig P320 is the U.S. Army's New Sidearm

      The new pistol replaces the 80s vintage M9 handgun.

      Popular Mechanics
    • Royals' Ventura killed in car crash in Dominican Republic

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Yordano Ventura quit school as a teenager so he could begin working a construction job to help his family make ends meet, laboring day after day in the hot sun of the Dominican Republic.

      Associated Press
    • Protesters take control of Mexican border crossing with US

      TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — Protesters took control of vehicle lanes at one of the busiest crossings on the U.S. border Sunday to oppose Mexican gasoline price hikes, waving through motorists into Mexico after Mexican authorities abandoned their posts.

      Associated Press
    • 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

      Still America's beast.

      Car and Driver
    • Why Amy Schumer Wore Orange, Not Pink, to the Womens March

      While many women wore pink to the Womens March to protest Donald Trumps stand on womens issues, Amy Schumer chose orange to bring awareness to gun violence

      Yahoo Style
    • Good Samaritan Shot Dead While Trying to Stop Mall Robbery

      The suspect has been charged with capital murder.

      Inside Edition
    • Hugo Barra leaves Xiaomi, says China has ‘taken a huge toll on my life’

      Smartphone startup Xiaomi began life as a peculiar beast. From within the safety of China, the company did all it could to copy every last detail of Apple's devices and marketing strategy, knowing there was precious little Apple could do to stop it. When Apple's portfolio was exhausted, Xiaomi moved on to Samsung, copying a large portion of its device lineup as well. But then, the company realized that it could only go so far selling phones in China and a handful of other markets. As growth was on track to slow substantially, Xiaomi knew that it had to work its way into other top-tier markets around the world. And so Xiaomi Global was born. The Xiaomi subsidiary has hit a few rough patches over the course of the past three-plus years, but today may be its roughest to date. On Monday, Xiaomi Global VP Hugo Barra announced that he is leaving the company. In a post on Facebook, Barra confirmed that he is leaving the company and moving back to Silicon Valley. "When Lei Jun and Bin Lin came to me nearly four years ago with the opportunity to help turn a young rockstar startup into a global player, I embarked on what has been the greatest and most challenging adventure of my life," Barra wrote . "I moved to Beijing, 6,500 miles out of my comfort zone in Silicon Valley, to build from scratch a startup team within a bigger startup. This journey has been nothing short of spectacular in every way, and I can proudly say that Xiaomi Global is the first baby I helped bring into the world." Then, his post took a curious turn. "But what I've realized is that the last few years of living in such a singular environment have taken a huge toll on my life and started affecting my health," Barra said. "My friends, what I consider to be my home, and my life are back in Silicon Valley, which is also much closer to my family. Seeing how much I've left behind these past few years, it is clear to me that the time has come to return." It's unclear exactly what Barra means when he says that working at Xiaomi in Beijing has "taken a huge toll" on his life and affected his health, but he goes on to run down some of the things Xiaomi Global has accomplished since he joined the company. Most notably, the company has expanded sales into Russia, Mexico, Malaysia and more than 20 additional markets. Of note, Barra will still play a role at Xiaomi moving forward. Mi president and cofounder Bin Lin confirmed in a post on Facebook that Barra will be an advisor to the company following his departure. "When Hugo joined us 3.5 years ago, we started an amazing adventure to turn Xiaomi into a global player," Lin wrote . "We have come a long way since, and I couldn’t thank him enough for contributing so much to Xiaomi’s journey. As much as we would love to have Hugo stay with us in Beijing for a much longer time, we understand his personal challenges and wish him all the best in his future endeavors. I’m also looking forward to working closely with him in his new role as advisor to Xiaomi."

      BGR News
    • Conway: Crowd Size at Trump's Inauguration 'Was Historic'

      Inauguration crowd size is 'not so important,' Kellyanne Conway said.

      ABC News q
    • 1 dead, multiple injured San Antonio shopping mall shooting

      SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A robbery inside a San Antonio shopping mall ended with shots fired on Sunday, leaving one person who tried to intervene dead, three others shot and another two people taken to hospital with non-shooting injuries, police and fire officials said.

      Associated Press
    • U.S. blocks health insurer Aetna's $34 billion Humana acquisition

      A U.S. judge blocked on Monday health insurer Aetna Inc's proposed $34 billion acquisition of smaller peer Humana Inc, raising the stakes for rival Anthem Inc as it battles to clear a $54 billion deal to buy Cigna Corp. The ruling is the latest sign of antitrust authorities having grown more assertive under U.S. President Barack Obama, whose term ended last week.

      Reuters
    • How to Work With a Boss You Hate

      Love your job but can't stand your boss? You've got plenty of company, according to Gallup research that shows half of workers in the U.S. have quit a job at some point because they didn't like their supervisor.

      U.S.News & World Report
    • Chen lands 5 quads to win US figure skating title with ease

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Nathan Chen stood on the top step of the podium and stifled a smile as U.S. Figure Skating president Samuel Auxier, preparing to drape a gold medal around his neck, bowed down before him.

      Associated Press
    • China urges Trump administration to grasp importance of 'one China'

      The new U.S. administration must fully understand the importance of the "one China" policy and appreciate that the issue of Taiwan is highly sensitive for the Beijing government, China said on Monday. U.S. President Donald Trump, who was inaugurated on Friday, said in December the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of "one China". Earlier, Trump broke with decades of precedent by taking a telephone call from Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

      Reuters
    • Discarded protest signs from the Women’s March in NYC (28 photos)

      Following the march in New York City, protesters left behind thousands of signs around Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower. Many signs left near a construction site were taken home by admirers as souvenirs. One group of placards was made into an art installation on East 57th Street, while many of these great signs were discarded near receptacles along Fifth Avenue waiting for sanitation. (Yahoo News) Photography by Gordon Donovan /Yahoo News _____ Related slideshows: Slideshow: Signs of the Women's March around the world >>> Slideshow: Women's March on Washington, D.C. >>> Slideshow: Women’s March around the world >>> Slideshow: How newspapers covered President's Trump inauguration >>> Slideshow: Anti-Trump inauguration protests break out in U.S. >>> Slideshow: Protests worldwide against the inauguration of Donald Trump >>> Slideshow: Obama's Washington >>> Slideshow: Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day >>> Slideshow: 66 hands on 66 Bibles >>> See more news-related photo galleries , and follow us on Yahoo News Photo Tumblr.  

      Yahoo News Photo Staff
    • Capcom Isn't Bringing ‘Resident Evil 7’ To The Nintendo Switch

      "Resident Evil 7" producer Masachika Kawata appears to be optimistic about the Nintendo Switch's hardware, but they have no plans on bringing the game to console yet.

      International Business Times
    • Powerful Quake Hits Off Papua New Guinea

      An earthquake measuring 7.9-magnitude struck 25 miles west of Panguna in Papua New Guinea, the United States Geological Survey said Sunday.

      International Business Times
    • Chelsea Clinton shuts down trolls who targeted Barron Trump

      Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton has spoken out in defence of Barron Trump, the US president's youngest son, after trolls targeted him with cruel memes online during the inauguration.  In a Facebook post Chelsea, who spent much of her teenage years in the spotlight while her dad Bill Clinton was president, said the 10-year-old "deserves the chance every child does-to be a kid".  But she also turned political: "Standing up for every kid also means opposing POTUS policies that hurt kids". Criticism of Barron's facial expressions and posture during the inauguration was widespread on social media, with people mocking him and calling him out for looking bored.  A Saturday Night Live writer even tweeted: "Barron will be this country's first homeschool shooter". The tweet was later deleted.  People on Facebook praised Chelsea for defending Barron while also expressing her political ideas:  BONUS: Donald Trump's inauguration address included a Bane quote ›

      Mashable