Episode 2:
State of Indiana
Kristine Bunch


Time Served: 17 Years
Status: Exonerated, 2012

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Abuse of Power:
Falsified Arson Report

(Photo / Innocence Project)

“There’s no way to describe the pain, the anger, the disbelief that somebody would, would take my life in their hands and just lie.” –Kristine Bunch

On June 30, 1995, Kristine Bunch experienced one of the most horrifying mornings any person can imagine. She woke to find her trailer home in Decatur County, Indiana, which she shared with her three-year-old son Tony, on fire. She fought to get to her son’s room, running outside and screaming for help and then throwing a tricycle through the window to try to fight her way back inside, before being pulled away by neighbors. She was then questioned and followed by cops, and agreed to a polygraph test, completely unaware that the police were considering the fire an arson, and Kristine was their main suspect. Kristine was arrested and taken to court on the basis of fire science evidence, a trial that lasted only one week. An arson expert from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (or ATF) testified that they found evidence of “flashover,” a combustion of fire which was believed to have only been caused by an accelerant; the AFT agent also said that he found a chemical accelerant in Tony’s bedroom. On March 4th, 1996, Kristine was found guilty of arson and felony murder. She gave birth to her second son in prison (a pregnancy that the judge in her case told her she planned just to get sympathy from the court), and immediately started studying fire science herself. With a new legal team on her side, Kristine began fighting back against the accusations stacked against her — a monumental task which would turn up some bombshell findings against those in power, including an intentionally falsified report by the ATF agent.

To support exonerees like Kristine, visit her company:


Date of crime: 6/30/95

Crime: Murder and Arson

Sentence: 60 years for felony murder, 50 years for arson (concurrent)

Interview Subjects:

  • Kristine Bunch
  • Ron Safer, defense attorney

To learn more, click here:

Innocence Project

NPR Illinois