PITTSBURGH -- The mothers of five children killed in a house fire in Pittsburgh's Larimer section were ordered to stand trial on involuntary manslaughter and other charges for leaving the youngsters alone while they went to a bar.
A district judge on Friday found there was sufficient evidence against Shakita Mangham and Furaha Love, both 25, for them to be tried on five counts of involuntary manslaughter, as well as one count of making false reports to police. They are also charged with recklessly endangering firefighters who responded to the blaze and endangering the welfare of children.
Prosecutors said Mangham initially told police the children were left with a baby sitter at the home in the 6400 block of Winslow Street the night of the June 12 fire.
She later acknowledged she had given investigators false information to avoid getting into trouble and because she wanted to attend funeral services and remain available for her surviving son, according to a criminal complaint.
Love also said later that she knew there was no baby sitter, and that the children had been left in the care of two 8-year-olds, police said.
Killed in the fire were three of Mangham's children, Daekia Holyfield, 7; Cedano Holyfield, 4; Dezekiah Holyfield, 3; and two of Love's children, Azequel Rankin, 5; and Andre Rankin, 6. The 8-year-old boys -- Javon Irwin and Huedon Chambliss -- escaped uninjured.
The early morning fire in the city's Larimer neighborhood was started by children playing with matches, authorities said. Autopsies showed the children, found on the second floor of the three-story row house, died from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Police Detective John Gilkey, an arson investigator, testified he believed the fire began near an empty fish tank on the second floor.
Under cross-examination from Love's attorney, Ernest Sharif, Gilkey acknowledged he didn't find matches, a lighter or similar physical evidence at the scene.
But prosecutors said Mangham told investigators she had found out a month earlier that Daekia had played with matches.
Defense attorneys told the judge the involuntary manslaughter charges were unwarranted.
"Ms. Love did not cause the fire," Sharif said. "Being outside of the home did not cause fire."
After the hearing, Sharif acknowledged community outrage over the deaths, but said "we can't run our judicial system on outrage."
Allegheny County Deputy District Attorney Laura Ditka, however, said the children might have been saved had their mothers been home.
"These children perished unnecessarily" Ditka said.
Mangham and Love, who remain free on bond, did not speak during the hearing.
Mangham's attorney, James Ecker, said his client "has been going through hell. She's living her life in hell now."
"There's no question she left the children," Ecker, said. "This is a big screw up. There's no question about it, but everybody screws up, but what are we going to do to her? Are we going to put her in prison for the rest of her life because she lost three children?"
No trial date has been set.
This is a very controversial subject in the area just now.....
more info can be found at the link..
http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/ne ... etail.html
two women lft seven children alone to go out and party.. 5 of the children died...
what are your thoughts...?