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:

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



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Michael Montgomery is a senior reporter and producer for Reveal. He has led collaborations with the Associated Press, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Frontline, KQED and others.

Previously, Montgomery was a senior reporter at American Public Media, a special correspondent for the BBC and an associate producer with CBS News. He began his career in eastern Europe, covering the fall of communism and wars in former Yugoslavia for the Daily Telegraph and Los Angeles Times. His investigations into human rights abuses in the Balkans led to the arrest and conviction of Serbian and Albanian paramilitaries and creation of a new war crimes court based in The Hague. Montgomery’s honors include Murrow, Peabody, IRE, duPont, Third Coast and Overseas Press Club awards. He is based in Reveal’s Emeryville, California, office.