Prosecutor Declines to File Charges in Conn. Christmas Fire

Matthew Badger's three daughters, 9-year-old Lily and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah, died in the fire along with their maternal grandparents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson

Wednesday, Nov 14, 2012  |  Updated 11:38 PM EDT
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A prosecutor has declined to file criminal charges in the Stamford, Conn. fire that killed three girls and their grandparents on Christmas morning. State's Attorney David Cohen said in a statement Friday that there was

A prosecutor has declined to file criminal charges in the Stamford, Conn. fire that killed three girls and their grandparents on Christmas morning. State's Attorney David Cohen said in a statement Friday that there was "insufficient evidence" for charges.

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A prosecutor has declined to file criminal charges in the Stamford, Conn. fire that killed three girls and their grandparents on Christmas morning.

State's Attorney David Cohen said in a statement Friday that there was "insufficient evidence" for charges.

The girls' mother, fashion advertising executive Madonna Badger, escaped the fire along with her friend Michael Borcina, a contractor who had been renovating the $1.7 million Victorian home on Long Island Sound.

Authorities had said the blaze was started after Borcina discarded a bag of fireplace ashes in or near an entryway, near the trash.

Cohen said there was no proof to arrest anyone on arson, criminally negligent homicide or reckless burning charges.

He added that "there is insufficient evidence to establish that either Mrs. Badger or Mr. Borcina were aware of and consciously disregarded a risk that there was a possible live ember in the ash that could result in a catastrophic fire."

The fire killed Badger's 7-year-old twins, Grace and Sarah Badger, 9-year-old daughter, Lily, and Badger's parents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson.

Cohen said the fire investigation "was hampered to some degree" by the actions of some Stamford officials, including demolishing the house before all inspections could be carried out, including a full accounting of smoke alarms.

Cohen said there was "no consensus" as to how many smoke alarms were in the house, where they were and whether they were working. The house had been undergoing renovations, he noted, and it was impossible to make conclusions from the many interviews conducted on the subject, including with people who had worked on the house.

He did note that while smoke detectors would have been required for a final certificate of acceptance for the house, at the time of the fire those were not required by the building code, and that it was legal for the family to be living there at the time.

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