Houghton County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Makinen did the right thing Monday when he requested, and was granted, a dismissal of charges against Ronald Kemppainen.
Kemppainen was charged with four counts of first degree murder as well as arson at a dwelling, stemming from a July 25, 2009 fire that killed four people in an apartment building in Hancock.
On May 28, a jury deliberated for 14 hours before announcing they could not reach a consensus, resulting in a mistrial.
Kemppainen was retried this December, after evidence was allowed into testimony concerning prior fires. Again, following hours of debate, that jury also was deadlocked, resulting in a second mistrial.
If convicted, Kemppainen faced a life felony for the murder charges and a 20-year felony for the arson charges.
The question is not whether Kemppainen committed those crimes; that is something only he and his maker know for certain.
There is some small consolation, however, in knowing that our system of justice works. Twenty-four people could not agree whether the prosecution had proven Kemppainen's guilt. Without that proof, Kemppainen must be considered innocent.