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California mother, 54, who served 29 years in prison after being convicted of killing her three children by setting their home on fire is released on parole after being granted clemency

 A Southern California mother who spent 29 years behind bars after being convicted of killing her three children by setting their home on fire was released from state prison on parole on Tuesday.

JoAnn Parks, 54, was granted clemency last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom, nearly a decade after an arson review panel concluded that the fire probably was started accidentally, according to the San Diego-based California Innocence Project, which handled the case.

Parks was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of her children in a fire that engulfed their home in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell on the night of April 9, 1989. She was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.

JoAnn Parks, 54, walked out of prison on Tuesday (left) after being granted clemency by Gov Gavin Newsom, 29 years into her life sentence

JoAnn Parks, 54, walked out of prison on Tuesday (left) after being granted clemency by Gov Gavin Newsom, 29 years into her life sentence.

An arson review panel in 2011 concluded that the fire probably was started accidentally. Parks is seen after her release on parole

An arson review panel in 2011 concluded that the fire probably was started accidentally. Parks is seen after her release on parole 

She was convicted in 1993 for the arson fire that killed her three children
Park's case was the subject of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Edward Humes' 2019 book, Burned

JoAnn Parks, 54, (left) was convicted in 1993 for the arson fire that killed her three children. Park's case was the subject of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Edward Humes' 2019 book, Burned

Parks, who escaped the blaze, has maintained her innocence, reported San Diego Union-Tribune.

At her trial, fire investigators testified that the blaze was caused by arson, with the perpetrator starting one fire in the living and another in the children's room, and then possibly using a hamper to block the door of a closet where one of Parks' children was later found dead. 


However, a review panel in 2011 'found the forensic evidence used during the original investigation was invalid' and that 'by modern standards, none of the allegedly incriminating evidence ... would withstand scrutiny today,' said a statement on The Innocence Project website.

'The investigators and jury were misled by bad science, or no science at all,' the statement said. 

The panel found that the fire spread from a single origin in the living room, and that there was no evidence that something was barricading the closet door. 

Attorneys for Parks said they would continue fighting to have her conviction overturned.

Parks was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of her children (pictured) in a fire

Parks was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of her children (pictured) in a fire 

A fire engulfed Parks' home in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell on the night of April 9, 1989

A fire engulfed Parks' home in the Los Angeles suburb of Bell on the night of April 9, 1989

Fire investigators argued that the arsonist started two blazes, including one in the children's room

Fire investigators argued that the arsonist started two blazes, including one in the children's room

'Nothing could be worse than losing your children and then being wrongfully convicted of their murder,' Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project, said in a statement. 

'As we learn more about the science of fires, hopefully these kinds of wrongful convictions will no longer occur.' 

Park's case was the subject of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Edward Humes' 2019 book, Burned 

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