Marian Williams sentenced to life in prison for killing 3 children in Arcadia arson fire
A jury recommended life in prison for Marian Williams, who was found guilty of a 2017 arson fire that killed three boys in Arcadia.
It took just two hours for the jurors to decide, almost as long as it took them to convict Williams last week on three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, arson, and burglary of an occupied dwelling.
Kenya Lindsay, the mother of the three boys, did not show any emotions the decision was read in court.
Judge Don T. Hall presided over the trial in DeSoto County.
Lindsay said she feels she got justice for her children 8-year-old Kiani Clark, 10-year-old Marcus Clark, and 4-year-old Kemaren Clark. The home was owned by their grandfather, Williams’ ex-boyfriend, who escaped the fire along with a second person.
“I’m grateful for the fact that this is it,” Lindsay said. “It gave us more closure now that we will never see her again and she can never harm anybody again.”
For the last four days, jurors have been listening to testimony in order to decide whether Williams should be sentenced to death.
In their closing statements, the state described the crime as “an act of cruelty.”
They also argued against the defense’s argument that Williams was battling depression and other mental health issues when she started the fire.
“You have to focus on what the defendant chose to do with their own free will,” a prosecutor said. “Many people in our society have depression but they’re still responsible for the crimes they commit.”
The defense argued the crime was not “especially” heinous or atrocious.
“Were any of these children still conscious when they burned? There’s no testimony that showed that,” a defense attorney said.
Testimony during the death penalty phase centered around Williams’ mental health, which includes depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, anger management issues and substance abuse.
Jurors also listened to victim impact statements from the boys’ family as well as many of Williams’ family members.
Defense attorney Kevin Shirley credits Williams’ family with helping jurors to spare her life.
“I think the testimony of the family members carried the day because I don’t think the jury understood how close the entire Williams family was to these children,” Shirley said. “Our client’s grandchildren played with the victims in the case.”
Williams’ attorneys said they plan to appeal the original conviction.
“We’re not happy with the verdict of last week of course but the fact that the jury came back with a life recommendation is very pleasing,” said Defense attorney Daniel Hernandez.