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Ohio man on trial for arson that killed 6

Oct. 9, 2008 at 5:40 PM   |   Comments

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A Youngstown, Ohio, man went on trial Thursday on charges he deliberately set a fire that killed six people because he was angry about a stolen cell phone.

Michael Davis, 18, denies starting the January fire, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Members of the jury cried when a prosecutor played the tape of Retia Crawford's desperate call to 911. Crawford escaped the flames but her mother, sister and the sister's children died.

"I don't want them to die. My mom is in the house," she said. "NO. . . . My house is

on fire, oh my God, four children are inside. My sister and my mom are upstairs."

Ricky Williams, who was staying in the house, testified that he did steal Davis's phone. He said that Davis did not say anything to him about the theft before the fire.

Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains, in his opening statement, said that Davis admitted starting the fire, although he later retracted his story. Defense lawyer James Gentile said the police investigation "produced the wrong person."

© 2008 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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