Trial begins Monday for woman accused of killing three boys in house fire

Reporter: Zach Oliveri Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

A woman who is accused of starting a house fire that killed three young boys is set to stand trial on Monday.

Marian Williams, 49, is accused of burning down the Arcadia home of the three little boys while they were inside in 2017. Police say Williams broke into her ex-boyfriend’s home and began choking him while he was asleep. The next day, she was accused of setting the fire that killed his three grandchildren.

Now, Williams faces the death penalty. But, what qualifies this case as a death penalty case? WINK News asks a legal expert.

According to our expert, the state must prove an aggravating factor. This will show the jury that this is not an ordinary murder case.

Marcus, Kiani, and Kemaren Clark are the names of the three young boys killed in a house fire at their grandfather’s home in 2017. Williams is the one accused of starting that fire.

The State of Florida is seeking the death penalty in this case. Pamella Seay is a law professor at FGCU.  “Based on the information currently available it is a reasonable assumption to put this to the court. So is this possible? Very much so,” said Seay.

Seay says that for the prosecution to be able to secure the death penalty for a case, they have to find at least one aggravating factor once a guilty verdict has been reached. “When the victims are under 12 years old, that is automatically an aggravating factor,” she said. “In order to impose the death penalty, you must have one aggravating factor. In this case, there’s your aggravating factor.”

If that factor is determined, it is then put to a jury for them to decide what happens. “In order to impose a death penalty, it does require a unanimous vote by that jury during that penalty phase,” Seay said.

Before  this week’s trial, prospective jurors were asked “do you believe those convicted of  murdering children should always be sentenced to death?”

“When you have a juror that doesn’t believe in the death penalty, then you can rest assured that they will not vote to impose a death penalty,” said Seay.

Police previously arrested Williams for attacking the children’s grandfather, Arnold Mele.

Seay says premeditation can be used as a window into her character when deciding what the punishment may be.

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