Conviction for tavern arson overturned

CREATED Mar 26, 2013

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FITCHBURG, Wis. (AP) -- A Wisconsin man imprisoned for an arson conviction is enjoying life at home with his family.

Joseph Awe walked out of the Oregon Correctional Center in Fitchburg Monday after a judge overturned his conviction and ordered his release.

The 42-year-old Friendship man spent nearly three years behind bars and has worked for six years to clear his name.

Awe was convicted in 2007 of party to arson with intent to defraud in the September 2006 fire that destroyed his bar, J.J.'s Pub, in Harrisville.

Marquette County Judge Richard Wright granted Awe a new trial, noting the state never determined how the fire started and that "there was no direct evidence of the defendant's guilt."

The State Journal (http://bit.ly/105utLD ) says the State Fire Marshal's Office is consulting with Marquette County district attorney about a possible appeal.

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj