IU McKinney Event Features Wrongfully Convicted Woman Freed After 16 Years in Prison


A presentation from someone who was released from prison after being wrongfully convicted of arson and murder was a highlight of the “Law and Forensic Science in Indiana” event, held at IU McKinney on June 6.

Hillary Bowe Ricks, Kristine Bunch, Jon LaramoreKristine Bunch, also known as the defendant/appellee in “Bunch v. Indiana,” was convicted in Decatur Circuit Court of arson and murder in connection with the June 1995 fire at her mobile home resulting in the death of her 3-year-old son, Tony. She was released after attorneys at the Innocence Project at Northwestern University found a report indicating that testing conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms found there was no evidence of an accelerant in the fire. The Indiana State Fire Marshal had reported that an accelerant had been used.

(In the photo are Hillary Bowe Ricks, '86, Kristine Bunch, and Jon Laramore. Ricks and Laramore were attorneys for Bunch.)

After her talk, Bunch was the subject of a news story, which aired on television station WTHR.

"The Law and Forensic Science in Indiana conference at the law school sought to emphasis the need to address evidence preservation in Indiana, to celebrate the Kristine Bunch decision, and to consider Indiana’s approach to expert comparison testimony," said Professor Fran Watson, Co-Director of Clinical Programs at IU McKinney, who teaches in the criminal defense clinic. "From the feedback I have received, I believe we succeeded in engaging our interdisciplinary audience and, most importantly, laying groundwork for reform of evidence preservation issues."  

The event was a project of the Faegre Baker Daniels Public Interest Fellows, Melinda Mains, ’12, and Carrie RauDaniel Bowman.

"As a fellow, it was very exciting to see the work that we had been discussing for years come together in this important conference," Mains said. "Indiana is lagging behind in creating legislation to address the critical need to conscientiously and systematically preserve evidence. Preserving evidence is important to everyone in the criminal justice system as it is used to solve old or cold cases and can be used to exonerate those who are wrongfully convicted."

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