George Souliotes, former Calif. landlord, freed after 16 years after judge overturns triple murder conviction

George Souliotes, above, escorted by a Modesto police officer
CBS Sacramento
(CBS/AP) MODESTO, Calif. - A former Modesto landlord was freed from prison on Wednesday after spending more than 16 years behind bars on a triple murder conviction.

George Souliotes was convicted of arson and triple murder for a 1997 fire that killed 30-year-old Michelle Jones and her two children, 3-year-old Amanda and 6-year-old Daniel Jr.

A federal judge threw out that conviction in March, ruling that Souliotes didn't get a fair trial because of an inadequate defense. Prosecutors had admitted they could not prove the house fire was deliberately set.

Souliotes pleaded no contest Tuesday morning to three counts of involuntary manslaughter for failure to maintain a working smoke alarm.

According to CBS Sacramento, the 1997 conviction followed the testimony of a witness who identified him in a Winnebago leaving the residence as the fire started. After a retrial, a new judge reportedly ruled the neighbor's testimony was unreliable and new science opened the possibility of an accidental fire.

Souliotes' son told CBS Sacramento that life outside of prison will be a big adjustment for his father.

  • Iris Carreras

    Iris Carreras covers crime for

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