Ill. Boy, 9, Allegedly Set House Fire That Killed 5 Family Members: 'I Forgive Him,' Says Mom
"Everyone is looking at him like he's some kind of monster, but that's not who he is," the mom said
A nine-year-old Illinois boy has been accused of intentionally setting a house fire that killed five family members, including three children.
The juvenile — whose name is being withheld by prosecutors because of his age — was charged Tuesday with five counts of first-degree murder, two counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson, Woodford County State’s Attorney Greg Minger confirms to PEOPLE.
Minger previously said probation is the “only outcome” that would happen if the child is convicted, reports the Journal Star.
The April 6 fire at the Timberline Mobile Home Park near Goodfield killed Kathryn Murray, 69; Jason Wall, 34, Rose Alwood, 2, Daemeon Wall, 2, and one-year-old Ariel Wall.
All of the victims died of smoke inhalation, the Journal Star reports.
The mother of the boy, who was able to escape the blaze but lost two children, her grandmother and her niece, told CBS News her son was diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar disorder and a type of schizophrenia.
“Everyone is looking at him like he’s some kind of monster, but that’s not who he is,” the mom said. “People make mistakes, and that’s what this is. Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it’s still not something to throw his life away over.”
The mom added, “I did lose, you know, my family too. But I forgive him. I love him no matter what.”
The mom described the horrific moment she heard her fiancé screaming while trapped inside the home.
“I don’t know what’s worse,” she said. “Hearing him scream, or when it stopped.”
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Minger said charging the child was a “heavy decision” for authorities, reports the Journal Star. “It’s a tragedy, but at the end of the day it’s charging a very young person with one of the most serious crimes we have,” he said.
Minger added, “But I just think it needs to be done at this point, for finality.”
Minger said the child will be appointed an attorney and have a trial in front of a judge, the Journal Star reports. If the boy is convicted he faces at least five-years-probation.
Minger declined to discuss or comment further about the case to PEOPLE.