Chicago area landlord gets life in prison for deadly arson fire

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 17, 2014 2:57 PM

By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A suburban Chicago landlord has been sentenced to life in prison for setting a fire that killed seven people, including four children, in a scheme to cash in on property insurance, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Lawrence Myers, 64, of Cicero, west of Chicago, had been convicted by a jury in November on seven counts of murder for his role in the 2010 blaze.

Myers, who was sentenced on Tuesday, got help in setting the fire from his building manager, Marion Comier, 51, prosecutors said. Myers wanted to collect on an insurance policy on the building valued at more than $250,000, prosecutors said.

The fire was set in the early morning on Valentine's Day, 2010 on the back porch of the two-story apartment building.

The blaze killed Byron Reed, 20; Sallie Gist, 18; their sons, Rayshawn Reed, 3, and Brian Reed, 3 days old; Gist’s 16-year-old twin siblings, Elijah and Elisha Gist; and family friend Tiera Davidson, 18, prosecutors said. Three Cicero firefighters were injured battling the blaze.

Those killed were sleeping in a second floor attic. Because there was only one exit on the second floor, the victims were trapped and died from carbon monoxide intoxication due to smoke inhalation, prosecutors said.

Myers, who represented himself at trial, told the court he planned to appeal, according to the Chicago Tribune.

It was not immediately known if Comier, who is awaiting trial, has an attorney.

(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)