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Man Ordered to Trial for Deadly Fire | News

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Man Ordered to Trial for Deadly Fire

A man from Scranton charged with arson and murder is headed to trial.

A judge ruled Friday there is enough evidence against William Woods after a fire that killed two boys last summer.

Prosecutors announced they are seeking the death penalty against Woods.

Tyaisha Leary walked into the Lackawanna County courthouse ready to testify about the night two of her sons died. Prosecutors said her ex-boyfriend, William Woods, set her home on fire in July, 2009. Her two sons, nine-year-old Taevon and 10-year-old Michael, died from burns and smoke inhalation.

"I'm glad it's being bound over for trial. I'm glad they're seeking the death penalty. It's important that criminals can't get away with what they did, you know?" Leary said. She had to relive the night two of her sons died as she took the stand.

Several witnesses testified Woods threatened to burn the house down shortly after the couple broke up.

Woods was charged with murder and arson one year to the day after the fire.

"He told me he was going to burn her house down. He told me because he wasn't going to let anyone have the stuff that he worked two jobs to have," said ex-girlfriend Sally Mulno. She added she never thought he would actually do it. "People say things out of anger all the time. You don't take it literally."

"It's something you'll never forget. Two innocent lives gone because of what? Nothing," said neighbor Cherie Hightower. She lives near the site of the fire and was there that night. She said she saw Woods just before the fire with flowers for Leary. The couple had just split after claims that Woods had become violent.

Investigators testified to finding charred, pink fires on the porch of the home that were there before the fire started.

"When it actually did happen I was like, he really did it," Mulno added. Woods was living with her in July, 2009. Moments after the fire, she said, Woods had packed five suitcases in a matter of minutes. "I figured he was running from something but then when he brought the bags back into my bedroom and said he didn't do anything wrong, he wasn't going to run."

A break in the case came when Woods' cell mate wrote to prosecutors saying Woods confessed him him. On the stand, one inmate said, "Those children were dead. I couldn't stand by knowing I knew something that could help."

Prosecutors said Tyaisha Leary had a protection from abuse order against Woods after he allegedly came at her with a knife and slashed her tires in the weeks before the fire.

No trial date has been set for William Woods.


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