- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

CHESTER, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois man was sentenced to 53 years in prison for setting a Percy house fire that killed four children last year.

Derrick Twardoski, 34, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree murder in August. A plea agreement reduced the original charge of four counts of first-degree murder, which he had pleaded not guilty to in an earlier court appearance.

Ethan, 12, Kailey, 9, and 5-year-old twins Brandon and Landon Owen died in the house fire.

Authorities believe Twardoski, who previously lived in Cutler, started the fire around 2 a.m. on May 10, 2013, the Southern Illinoisan (http://bit.ly/1E9TGdi ) reported. The four children were sleeping on the second level of the Percy home and weren’t able to be rescued due to heavy fire and smoke. Their parents, 6-year-old brother and cousin, all of whom were sleeping downstairs, were able to escape.

Prosecutors didn’t disclose Twardoski’s possible motivations in setting the blaze in Percy, a village about 60 miles southeast of St. Louis.

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com

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