KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - Prosecutors added three new charges of manslaughter in the case of three young children killed in a Kalamazoo apartment fire after being left alone.
The Feb. 18 fire at Interfaith Apartments killed three children: 3-year-old twins Taniyah and Tevin Williams and their 1-year-old sister Tyonna Henderson. A fourth child survived and has since been removed from their mother's custody.
Fred Glespie, the boyfriend of the children's mother Jonetta Woods, was already facing three counts of second-degree child abuse in their deaths.
At a Monday preliminary hearing, Kalamazoo County prosecutors moved to bind Glespie over on three additional counts of involuntary manslaughter and a fourth count of second-degree child abuse for the child who survived the blaze.
"We're basically talking gross negligence -- that he was aware of the dangerousness of his conduct and consciously chose to create that risk, but did not seek to cause them harm," an assistant prosecutor explained.
A source told 24 Hour News 8 officials believe one of the children started the fire. Court documents allege Glespie knew one of the children had a fascination with the stove and had previously played with the knobs, and still left them without adult supervision.
If Glespie is found guilty, the new charges could add five years to the maximum sentence for a total of 15 years behind bars.
Woods testified against Glespie at the Monday hearing.
"What happened to your apartment? What happened to 3 of your children?" a prosecutor asked her.
"There was a fire and they burned up," Woods responded.
Woods said she left the children to repay a $5 loan from a nearby friend.
"I didn't leave them there. I left them with Fred Glespie," she said.
She testified she asked him to watch the children and that he agreed. She was only gone for five minutes, she said.
"I ran across the field and my sister's like, 'Fire, fire, fire. The house on fire,'" Woods said on the stand.
She said she tried to save the children.
"I was trying to go in there and get my kids," she said. "Tried to run in the door. I opened the door and the fire blew back."
The defense attorney's cross examination seemed to suggest he was targeting the mom for leaving the children alone.
Police say she and Glespie told conflicting stories about what happened that day.
"That situation that day was complete chaos. There was people fighting. There were numerous fights that broke out. It was virtually impossible to do a thorough investigation on scene," Detective Greg Cordes testified.
The judge didn't rule on the case Monday, instead saying he would issue a decision on Aug. 14 about whether Glespie should stand trial.
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