The blaze that killed 19-year-old Kristen Milano at her Southington apartment earlier this summer broke out when a lit firecracker was thrown through the window, according to an affidavit obtained by the Record-Journal, which says Milano died of smoke inhalation.
Milano’s death was ruled a homicide, and 18-year-old Eric Morelli, a friend of her brother, has been charged with first-degree manslaughter and three counts of first-degree reckless endangerment. The application for his arrest warrant was unsealed Friday.
Morelli told police he had plans to smoke marijuana with Jason Milano after attending a party in New Britain near Central Connecticut State University, the Record-Journal reports.
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According to the affidavit, Morelli allegedly drank beer and vodka at the party, then drove to the Darling Street apartment on his motorized scooter around 4:30 a.m. June 22.
Morelli told police he could see Jason Milano sleeping on the couch, but called his name and couldn't wake him. He then retrieved fireworks from his moped and began throwing them at the apartment, the affidavit says. The first two bounced off the window, but the third landed inside.
Neighbors said they heard a hissing noise before the fire alarm sounded, then saw flames pouring from a bedroom window. One resident told police she saw a person matching Morelli’s description shortly before the fire broke out, according to the affidavit.
Investigators later found fireworks near the apartment window, the affidavit says, at least one of which appeared to have gone off.
The Milanos’ aunt, Diane Goodrich, told police she woke up to the fire alarm and saw flames on a pillow in Jason Milano’s second-story bedroom, the affidavit says.
“I couldn’t believe how fast the fire spread,” the affidavit quotes her as saying. “It was almost as if gasoline was on the bed.”
She doused the flames, to no avail, then woke her nephew and ran outside, the warrant states. Jason Milano told police he tried to get back in to see if anyone else was inside, but the smoke was too thick and he turned around.
Goodrich told authorities everyone was out of the building, according to the affidavit.
She was wrong. Kristen Milano had been sleeping on the second floor. Firefighters found her body while searching the apartment. She was identified by her tattoos, the affidavit says.
Morelli told police he went home after failing to wake his friend. He didn’t know Kristen Milano had died in the blaze and started to cry when police told him, according to the affidavit.
Ray Hassett, Morelli's attorney, said the affidavit is one of many documents providing insight into what happened that night, and "there are other critical reports which will supplement the facts of this case," including the official report of the fire investigator.
"The entire situation is tragic considering all the facts known to date," Hassett said in a statement Friday. "There appear to be a number of extenuating circumstances which caused this catastrophic outcome."
The family of Kristen Milano is planning to sue the town, citing negligence on the part of the fire department, according to a notice filed by attorney Marissa A. Bellair last week.
Morelli is due back in court Sept. 4.