GREENVILLE, OH – A 10-year-old boy accused of deliberately setting a house fire that killed his mother, sister and three other children was coerced into confessing, his lawyer said.
The boy is charged with five delinquency counts of murder and one delinquency count of aggravated arson in the Sept. 16 fire at a duplex apartment about 30 miles northwest of Dayton.
The fire killed the boy's mother, Chanan Palmer, 31, and her 8-year-old daughter, Kaysha, who is the boy's half-sister. Also killed were the children of housemate Christy Winans: Kayla Winans, 6; Je'Shawn Davis, 5; and Jasmine Davis, 3.
"I'm very concerned about the way prosecutors are going about this," said attorney David Rohrer, who was retained Tuesday by the boy's maternal grandmother to represent the child. "There's no reason for them to charge him with five charges of murder."
Rohrer said Thursday that the prosecution has "become political and the compounding of a tragedy" and he is not convinced the boy is guilty.
The attorney said he will seek to have the boy's statement to police kept out of evidence in the case. The child's grandparents weren't permitted to be present when he was interrogated last week, and the boy was coerced into admitting he set the fire, Rohrer said.
The judge issued a gag order in the case Friday morning to prevent the prosecution and defense attorneys from discussing the case with the media.