Eastern Iowa Woman Sentenced for Fire That Killed a Mother and Son
A Waterloo woman has been sentenced to two life sentences for setting a fire that took the life of a 9-year old boy, and his mother in April 2018. 45-year old Denise Susanna O'Brien was sentenced for the death of 32-year-old Ashely Smith and her son, Jaykwon Sallis. They were found dead in an upstairs bedroom.
The fire was revenge motivated
According to a report from KWWL, the fire was set by O'Brien because she was angry her boyfriend Willie Phillips was staying at Smith's home. at 536 Dawson Street in Waterloo. Phillips and a second woman escaped the fire without injury.
Back in April 2018 shortly after the fire, the Courrier reported O'Brien said she "should kill everyone". Shortly after the fire, police used survivance video from area businesses where O'Brien could be clearly seen pulling a stocking cap out of her pocket and pulling it over her face to conceal her identity.
Shortly after the fire, O'Brien was spotted again on surveillance holding a cup from a nearby convenience store. Text messages indicate O'Brien was well aware there were people in the home when the fire was started.
During sentencing, the judge pointed out fires were set at the front and back doors in an effort to trap occupants inside the home, pointing out the deliberate intent O'Brien had to cause harm to those inside. Despite the sentence, O'Brien's attorney says she continues to maintain her innocents.
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