A California man who has already served 16 years of his life sentence mandate after being charged for the murders of his three tenants who died in a house fire where no working smoke alarms were present is now set to be released from prison.
via L.A. Times
A former landlord who escaped the death penalty but was sentenced to life for a triple murder arson is expected to go free Tuesday after pleading no contest to involuntary manslaughter in the case for failing to maintain a working smoke alarm.
George Souliotes, 72, a Greek immigrant, served more than 16 years in prison for a triple-murder arson in the deaths of Michelle Jones, 31, and her children, 8 and 3. Prosecutors had sought the death penalty, but Souliotes was sentenced instead to life without parole.
On the eve of a retrial, Modesto prosecutors agreed to free Souliotes if he would plead no contest to three counts of involuntary manslaughter for not maintaining working smoke detectors in his rental property.
Charges that he murdered the tenants or set the fire were dropped, and prosecutors agreed to stop pursuing appeals of a ruling this year by a federal judge who said Souliotes had proved his “actual innocence” and ordered the state to retry or release him.
Prosecutor Dave Harris, the chief deputy Stanislaus County district attorney, declined to comment, saying a statement by his office would be posted online.
The case against Souliotes began to unravel when new evidence was discovered, and the science behind the findings of arson was debunked.
“He is walking free because they can’t prove their case of arson or homicide, and he didn’t do it,” said Linda Starr, legal director of the Northern California Innocence Project run by Santa Clara University. “They tried to execute him twice.”
This is a sad story and we definitely think that the landlord should be held at least partially accountable for the deaths of these young children and their mother. What do you think, Bossip fam?