Louis Taylor looks ahead

April 03, 2013

One day after his release, Louis Taylor says he’s trying to adjust to his freedom. Taylor was released from prison on Tuesday, after serving 40 years behind bars.

Louis Taylor Louis Taylor breaks down as he talks about when he was convicted in 1973 of setting the Pioneer Hotel fire and responsible for the deaths of 29 people who died in the blaze.(Photo by Nadine Arroyo Rodriguez-KJZZ)

He was convicted of setting the 1970 Tucson Pioneer Hotel fire and killing 29 people. Taylor had always claimed his innocence and says he wants a normal life.

"I went to Sabino Canyon for a hike to kind of transcend me back into society slowly. I think I’m gonna be alright," Taylor said.

This is Taylor’s first time out in the world as a free man. During a press conference, Taylor says being out of prison has been a bit overwhelming, but he’s ready to get his life together.

"Nothing really scares me. All I can do is go forward you know," Taylor said. "I’m gonna try to do the best that I can. I’m very fortunate that I have the team that I have, which I call the dream. I just thank God that I’m free."

Taylor was 16 when he was convicted of starting the Tucson hotel fire. While behind bars, Taylor got an education and worked as a medical technician. With this training, he’s hoping to find work.

But there’s a challenge. Taylor was released on a no contest plea agreement that keeps the conviction on his record. That means applying for and getting a job could be difficult.

Larry Hammond is with the Arizona Justice Project, the group that helped win Taylor’s freedom. Hammond says he's hoping people will be open-minded.

"Maybe the people who are prospective employers will look past the fact that he has a conviction," Hammond said.

His attorney said Taylor will face other challenges adjusting to a society he left in 1970. His immediate family is gone, and the few friends he has are those who worked on his case.

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