After a six-year investigation, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office has charged an alleged heroin addict with murder for the 2006 arson fire deaths of four people in a Crown Heights apartment building.
Samuel Martinez, 38, has been hit with eight counts of second-degree manslaughter for allegedly starting the fatal blaze.
“A tragedy like this cannot and will not be forgotten nor can a crime
like this go unpunished,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes says. “This is the culmination of an exhaustive six-year investigation led by
FDNY Bureau of Fire Investigation, the New York Police Department and my
office, into a horrific fire that claimed the lives of four people,
including a mother and her two young children.”
According to the indictment, about 5 a.m. on February 24, 2006, Martinez started a fire in the four-story apartment building at 1033 Pacific Street in Crown Heights. Martinez, authorities say, was in the building to buy heroin from one its tenants.
The fire quickly spread to the upper floors, where 23-year-old Sherri
Williams lived. To escape the inferno, Williams jumped out the window
and was killed when her spine “shattered.”
One floor below, Kassoum Fofana, his wife Assita Coulibaly, their
three-year-old daughter, Marian and one-year-old son, Mohamed, were
trying to escape the blaze. Coulibaly and the girl became engulfed in
flames as they attempted to flee into a hallway. They both were killed in the fire.
Fofana broke a window to escape the blaze and ended up hanging on to a
brick ledge on the side of the building. He lost his grip and fell to
the ground. He was rushed to a hospital and survived. His son was killed
inside the apartment.
Martinez hasn’t been hit with any additional charges because the
statute of limitations has run out for several of the other alleged
crimes tied to the fire.
If convicted, Martinez faces 25 years to life in prison for each count.