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Murder charges filed in deadly Prospect Heights arson

June 19, 2012 7:15:19 PM PDT
A man is facing murder charges Tuesday related to a deadly fire in Brooklyn in 2006.

Four people, two of them children, were killed in the apartment fire in Prospect Heights.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes is bringing a case against 38-year-old Samuel Martinez, of Crown Heights. He says it is the culmination of a six-year investigation.

"A tragedy like this cannot and will not be forgotten, nor can a crime like this go unpunished," Hynes said.

Investigators believe Martinez set the fire around 5 a.m. on February 24, 2006, after a dispute with a drug dealer, from whom he frequently bough heroin.

Assita Coulibaly, 36, and her 3-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son died. The mother and daughter were engulfed by flames after they opened a door. Coulibaly's husband, Kassoum Fofana, fell from the building while trying to rescue his son. He landed on the body of 23-year-old Sherri Williams, who had jumped for a fourth-floor window and suffered a broken spine. Williams died, while Fofana was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. He survived, while his son died from smoke inhalation.

Five children were tossed from the second floor and caught by an ex-Marine.

Martinez is charged with eight counts of second-degree murder and faces 25 years to life in prison on each count. He was not charged with arson, because the statute of limitations has run out.

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