Man convicted in 1988 deaths of 6 Kansas City firefighters close - KCTV5

Man convicted in 1988 deaths of 6 Kansas City firefighters closer to freedom

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A man convicted in the 1988 deaths of six Kansas City firefighters may be a step closer to freedom.  On Feb. 15, Bryan Sheppard will be re-sentenced for his role in that deadly explosion. (KCTV5) A man convicted in the 1988 deaths of six Kansas City firefighters may be a step closer to freedom. On Feb. 15, Bryan Sheppard will be re-sentenced for his role in that deadly explosion. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A man convicted in the 1988 deaths of six Kansas City firefighters may be a step closer to freedom.

On Feb. 15, Bryan Sheppard will be re-sentenced for his role in that deadly explosion.

Sheppard has always maintained his innocence. His lawyer says he's passed a lie detector test. But this latest development is about his age at the time of that explosion.

Sheppard was 17, and a Supreme Court ruling means he will be re-sentenced.

The six firefighters died while battling a worksite fire that exploded. It moved houses off foundations and left a crater 40-feet wide and six-feet deep.

It broke a community's heart, and for years, the crime went unsolved. Investigators explored different theories including union sabotage.

In 1997, a jury convicted five people, including Sheppard, for intentionally setting that fatal fire and sentenced them to life in prison.

"They wanted to put the case behind us. They grabbed the rats of the neighborhood. I guess you could say the most disposable people you could find," Sheppard's daughter, Ashley Keeney, said.

Keeney spoke to KCTV5 News when she visited Kansas City about a year ago. We also spoke to her mother, Debbie Matthews, who was Sheppard's girlfriend at the time of the explosion.

"I know he didn't (do it). Because I was with him and he was asleep on the couch," she said.

Sheppard's family wants to clear his name, but freedom could come first.

A Supreme Court ruling states mandatory life sentences for juveniles is unconstitutional. Sheppard was 17 at the time of the explosion.

The judge has a wide range of options. He could uphold the sentence, hand down a brand new sentence or sentence Sheppard to time served.

The two main factors are how Sheppard lived up until the age of 17 and what kind of citizen he has been behind bars. Sheppard's lawyer says he's been a model prisoner

KCTV5 has reached out to the family of those fallen firefighters. They say all these legal turns are very painful.

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