Bryan Sheppard, who was sentenced to life in prison for a 1988 arson fire explosion that killed six Kansas City firefighters, was ordered released by a federal judge Friday.

Sheppard, who was 17 at the time of the crime, was granted a new sentencing hearing after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a mandatory life sentence for a juvenile was unconstitutional. The judge re-sentenced Sheppard, now 45, to 20 years in prison. He had already served 22. During that time, Sheppard has continuously maintained his innocence.

The firefighters case was the subject of a Reveal episode last month, produced in collaboration with Kansas City Public Television, that raised questions about the government’s use of jailhouse informants and exposed conflicting testimony. Eight people who testified to a grand jury or at trial later recanted.

Read reporter Mike McGraw’s full story here. Listen to the Reveal episode below:

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Michael Montgomery can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @MichaelMontCIR.



Michael Montgomery

Michael Montgomery is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal. He reports on the criminal justice system, vulnerable populations, and the underground economy. Montgomery has led collaborations with the Associated Press, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Frontline, KQED and others. After completing a Fulbright fellowship in Eastern Europe, Montgomery covered the fall of communism and wars in former Yugoslavia for The Daily Telegraph and Los Angeles Times. He also worked as an associate producer for "60 Minutes" correspondent Ed Bradley and was a senior reporter for American RadioWorks. His investigations into human rights abuses in the Balkans led to the arrest and conviction of Serbian and Albanian paramilitaries and the creation of a new war crimes court in The Hague. As a reporter and producer, Montgomery has garnered national and international prizes, including an Overseas Press Club Award, Investigative Reporters and Editors Certificate, Edward R. Murrow Award, Peabody Award and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University gold and silver batons. Montgomery is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.