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Woman Gets 2 Life Sentences For Setting A Fire Which Killed A Mom And Son

Prosecutors said that Denise O'Brien became enraged after her lover spent the night with another woman so she set fire to that woman's residence which killed two people that had nothing to do with the love triangle.

By Gina Tron

An Iowa woman has received two life sentences for intentionally setting a malicious fire at a home while enraged at a lover, which in turn killed an entirely unrelated woman and her young son.

Judge Joel Dalrymple sentenced Denise Susanna O'Brien, 45, to two consecutive life sentences on Monday, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports. A jury found her guilty in November of two counts of first-degree murder for the April 2018 deaths of Ashley Smith, 32, and her son Jaykwon Sallis, 9.

O'Brien was arrested the same month of the blaze and charged with murder four months later, local outlet KCRG reports.

During O’Brien’s trial, prosecutors said that she had set the fire after becoming enraged that her on-again-off-again boyfriend was spending the night with another woman at Smith’s residence. That woman, as well as O’Brien’s former lover, managed to escape the flames but Smith and Sallis became trapped. They died holding one another in an upstairs bedroom of the home, the Falls Courier reports.

Denise Obrien Pd

Before setting the home ablaze, prosecutors say that O’Brien texted her lover "Karma comin 4 u … i hope it hurts," according to the Falls Courier.

“You are evil,” Smith’s mother Sheila Craft told O’Brien in court on Monday, according to the outlet. “You killed two beautiful souls over a guy who obviously didn’t want you. … You spoke of luck and karma. Well, I truly hope it gets you.”

O’Brien has long proclaimed innocence, claiming that she was at her home at the time of the fire.

Prosecutor James Katcher argued on Monday that the consecutive life sentences were fitting in no small part because the victims had nothing to do with O’Brien’s malice.

“This defendant had no regard for who she was going to be killing. She took the most dangerous means of accomplishing her act,” he said. “This is what raises this to the level where it needs to have significant punishment to say we will never tolerate anybody taking the lives of completely innocent people.”

Dalrymple has also ordered O’Brien to pay $150,000 to the estates of both mother and son.

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