After a 16-year prison stint for the 1995 arson murder that killed her 3-year-old son, Kristine Bunch was granted $5,000 cash bail at the suggestion of prosecutors.
The 38-year-old Bunch was released Wednesday afternoon less than a half-hour after a Decatur County judge granted the right to post bail. While the state reportedly plans to try her again on murder and arson charges, Bunch emerged from the Decatur County Sheriff's office and hugged her mother and her teenage son Trenton, who was born while she was incarcerated.
"I want to watch him sleep," said Bunch, now 38, blond and wearing brown-rimmed glasses. "I want to be able to bounce into his room all night and look at him while he's asleep."
In 1996, Bunch was arrested and charged after she was accused of setting the blaze that destroyed her Greensburg mobile home and claimed her son Tony's life.
According to court records obtained by the Chicago Tribune, there were no witnesses who saw her set the fire, no evidence of flammable liquid on her clothes and no testimony about a possible motive.
Bunch was eventually convicted and sentenced to 60 years. In 2006, she filed a petition seeking a new trial. Four years later, the court denied the request, a decision that the Indiana Court of Appeals overturned in March.
According to the Associated Press, the same court last week ordered the local court to allow Bunch's release on bond while she awaits her second trial. The courts said that the evidence used to convict her was outdated, weak and wrongly withheld from the defense.
Bunch's attorney, Ron Safer, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, said prosecutors "did exactly the right thing" by asking for a low bond, but expressed disappointment by the fact that they are pressing for a second trial. Safer suggested to reporters that no real evidence of arson existed in the case.
Prosecutors are currently seeking a gag order to restrict attorneys' public comments on the case, according to AP. A hearing on their request is scheduled for Aug. 30, and Bunch was ordered to attend.
Bunch said she will live with her 58-year-old mother, Susan Hubbard, and her 16-year-old son, Trenton, in nearby Columbus, Ind.
Bunch said she looked forward to doing the everyday things that most people take for granted, like shopping, eating out, and using the Internet, which she has never seen.
"I can learn how to Facebook," she said. "All my friends tell me they're on Facebook."
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.