Mr. Lorenz was elated when the results came back that year showing that neither man’s DNA had been found.
“I thought I was going home immediately,” he said.
Instead, Mr. Flynn appointed two prosecutors to review the case: Michael J. Hillery, who ran the office’s appeals bureau, and David A. Heraty, an assistant district attorney in the same division. They interviewed more than 50 witnesses and poked holes in the testimonies that had led to the convictions.
At the trial in 1994, some prosecution witnesses professed only passing knowledge of the case; one was a career criminal with a history of cooperating with murder prosecutions.
Some jewelry and cash had been stolen from the house, according to the prosecution, but the only physical evidence linking Mr. Lorenz was a rare coin in his possession. During the trial, Mr. Meindl told the jury that the coin was taken from his home, bolstering the theory that his wife’s killing had resulted from a burglary gone bad. But Mr. Meindl later told Mr. Heraty and Mr. Hillery that he actually wasn’t sure whether the coin was taken from his house, according to their findings.
One man, Carlos Gonzalez, testified at the trial that he had seen Mr. Lorenz say he couldn’t believe he had killed someone. Mr. Gonzalez, who was released from jail for cooperating with the authorities, told Mr. Hillery and Mr. Heraty he wasn’t sure if what he said was true.
“Said his brain is fried,” according to the prosecutors’ notes.
A key witness was Ms. Hummingbird, who had a drinking problem, according to her son Gabriel Rodriguez, and was given alcohol by Mr. Bentley during his interviews with her. He described his mother, who died in 2019, as a fabulist who spun tales from random facts.
“My mom was the biggest liar you’ve met in your life,” Mr. Rodriguez said.
Mr. Rodriguez said he saw Mr. Lorenz the afternoon of the murder. Then 14, Mr. Rodriguez said he and Mr. Lorenz went to have a shotgun sawed off at a local auto shop and visited two women at a mall. He said there was no indication that Mr. Lorenz had committed a murder just hours before, despite his mother’s testimony in 1994 that he was “hyped up.”