March 4, 1996 – A Decatur County jury deliberated only three hours before sentencing 22-year-old Kristine “Kristi” Bunch to 60 years in prison for the death of her son Anthony.
Although Prosecutor William O. Smith had not presented evidence of a motive during the trial, Indiana Fire Marshals Bryan Frank and James Skaggs asserted they’d found evidence “the fire was deliberately set, that accelerants had been used to cause the fire, that there were ‘pour patterns’ in the burned-out home where accelerants had been poured, and that the fire had started in two separate locations, one of which was the bedroom in which Anthony was sleeping.”
A report by William Kinard, a forensic chemist with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, had further substantiated those findings.
Ten years later, Bunch filed a petition challenging her conviction. It was then revealed that Kinard had initially disagreed with Skaggs and Frank’s conclusion of arson. However, key portions of the ATF chemist’s report were later deleted or altered in order to coincide with the opinions of the fire marshals.
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed Bunch’s conviction on March 21, 2012, and all charges were dropped later that year.
By then, she had already lost seventeen years of her life behind bars.
Kristine, who was pregnant at the time of her arrest, is a free woman today and has reconnected with the son she gave birth to in prison.