Arson Death Penalty Case Built on Dubious Science

"And do you want me to say at this point that had that happened, based on what I know right now -- would've been a miscarriage of justice? Yes," said Shannon. "I would think I believe it would've been... thank God we didn't get to that point."

Still, the point Kelley did get to was tragically bleak: four years in jail, and eight years under the shadow of prosecution.

We asked DeHaan if he had ever called Kelley to explain or apologize in any way. "No," he said. "My responsibility is to my client and the justice system. ... I've been dealing with clients of all kinds for 40 years and I'm sure the experience in unpleasant."

Though the experts and the lawyers now agree there's no proof of arson in the Kelley case, Sandoval, who pressed so hard for Kelley's confession for all those years, hasn't moved an inch.

We asked him how it felt when he realized Kelley was not going to be charged with arson.

"I had a nauseating feeling," he said. "Because there's not a doubt in my mind that this lady didn't kill her children."

Kelley declined to respond.

"I wouldn't say anything to him," said Kelley. "I pray for him. He's pitiful. I don't know how he sleeps."

But Kelley's nightmare wasn't over. Shannon decided there was negligence on her part for leaving the kids alone during the time the fire broke out.

He filed new charges in what was then legally considered nothing more than an accidental fire -- charges that could have still potentially put her in prison for life. Small advised Kelley that there was no way to be sure what would happen in a trial.

She finally decided to plead guilty to a lesser charge of negligent homicide with the agreement that she serve no further jail time.

As Kelley left the courthouse, for the first time she was legally clear... but not free. She said she deals with the guilt over what happened every day, and that due to all the years of rumors and false accusations, she can't feel that she got justice.

"With all the lies and rumors and the false accusations, no," said Kelley. "It will one day though. I believe that. I believe we all answer for what we've done when we stand before God, and Sandoval will. He'll have to answer."

Watch 20/20 tonight at 10 p.m. for the conclusion of the Amanda Kelley case.

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