Charges dropped after children die in fireSeptember 18, 2020
By The Associated Press
HAMMOND — An Indiana couple will no longer face neglect charges in the deaths of their three children during a fire in an apartment which had no gas, electricity or water service.
The Lake County prosecutor’s office dropped the charges against Andre and Michele Young, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported Thursday.
Seven-month-old Jayden Young, 4-year-old Dasani Young and 3-year-old Alexia Young were killed in the January 2014 blaze in Hammond.
Two other children — ages 2 and 6 — were rescued by Andre Young who was injured.
Authorities determined the fire started from a propane heater in the apartment. Court records showed that due to financial reasons the family had no utilities.
A coroner ruled the deaths accidental. The state’s fire marshal’s office later determined the fire also was accidental.
Andre and Michele Young had stepped outside the apartment to speak with two people about work needed on a vehicle when one of their children put paper into the propane heater, which was on and in the living room, according to court records.
The temperature outdoors that day was between minus-2 and 17 degrees Fahrenheit (minus-19 and minus-8 degrees Celsius), according the newspaper.
The couple was charged in 2016.
“A careful review of case law indicates that the state of Indiana would not be able to show a high probability that the defendant placed the child victims in ‘actual and appreciable’ danger for purposes of the neglect statute,” Deputy Prosecutor Judith Massa wrote in June motions to dismiss the charges.
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