The attorneys said several defense experts, using modern forensic fire science, would testify they would not have ruled the blaze arson. The defense team also alleged a prosecutor engaged in misconduct by not giving defense attorneys a laboratory report that said no accelerants were found and by talking to the judge without defense attorneys present.
Michael Piccarreta, one of the Arizona Justice Project lawyers advocating on behalf of Taylor, said Taylor maintains his innocence but will plead no contest as a way of getting out of prison quickly.
Piccarreta said Sunday that Taylor's lawyers believe he would have eventually prevailed, but thought that process could have taken another 18 months.
An investigator with the Tucson Fire Department recently reviewed the available evidence in the case and was unable to determine what caused the blaze.
However, prosecutor Rick Unklesbay said the original fire investigator for the prosecution still believes the blaze was purposely set, and the fire investigator who recently reviewed the case lacked access to a great deal of evidence. Much of the evidence in the case was destroyed in the 1990s or disappeared after civil attorneys took possession of it when they sued the hotel.
Unklesbay said in an interview last month that even though defense experts were unable to determine the fire's cause, that doesn't mean it wasn't arson. The prosecution's original fire investigator stands by his 42-year-old report, and other evidence presented at the 1972 trial indicated the fire was arson.