- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Police charged a 49-year-old woman with first-degree murder and arson Monday night in a fire that afternoon that killed her elderly aunt in her Northeast row house.
Sharon Denise Williams, 49, shared the home in the 600 block of Eighth Street NE with Frances Saunders, who died of burns.
Investigators said a verbal altercation led to the fire being set.
Miss Williams was to be arraigned in D.C. Superior Court yesterday, but the session was delayed until 4 p.m. today. She was being held in police custody overnight.
The Associated Press reported that prosecutors said they needed time to respond to a defense assertion that the fire doesn't meet the definition of arson.
Miss Williams appeared in Superior Court last evening barefoot and wearing a white prison jumpsuit. Relatives said she has been in and out of mental institutions, and had been living in a homeless shelter until Mrs. Saunders allowed her to move in.
Fire department sources said traces of accelerants were found in several places on the first floor of the home, where it is suspected the fire was started.
Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said Monday night that dogs sniffed out the accelerants, a sign the blaze was set. Several people, including relatives, were questioned Monday night before Miss Williams was arrested.
Firefighters found Mrs. Saunders dead about 3:30 p.m. on the second floor of the three-story, brick row house with yellow trim. She shared her home with two of her daughters and one of her sons.
Three persons were injured in the fire, including a firefighter who was treated for smoke inhalation and heat exhaustion, and an off-duty emergency medical technician who was treated on-site for burns to his hand. A 48-year-old woman, who told police she was in the house before firefighters arrived, was treated at George Washington University Hospital for smoke inhalation and was released.
Anthony Proctor, the off-duty EMT, said he was headed to pick up his child when he saw the fire. He tried to enter the house, but the intense smoke and heat kept him out.
Two other row houses were damaged in the fire.


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