- Associated Press - Friday, October 3, 2014

CHESTER, Ill. (AP) - A man who pleaded guilty to setting a house fire last year in southwestern Illinois that killed four children has been sentenced to 53 years in prison.

The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan (https://bit.ly/1ujM83g) reports that 34-year-old Derrick Twardoski was sentenced Friday - two months after he and Randolph County prosecutors reached an agreement that called for him to plead guilty to one of the four counts of first-degree murder.

Authorities say Twardoski set the fire in the village of Percy in May 2013. Four children - 5-year-old twins and a 9- and 12-year-old - who were sleeping upstairs were killed.

The victims’ parents and a brother and cousin who were sleeping downstairs or in the basement escaped. Fire and heavy smoke prevented them from reaching the other children.

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