Grand jury indicts mother in fatal house fire

Grand jury indicts mother in fatal house fire

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by NewsChannel 36 Staff
E-mail Us: NEWS@WCNC.com

WCNC.com

Posted on March 15, 2010 at 3:33 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 15 at 5:11 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A grand jury has indicted a mother accused of leaving her four children home alone when a kerosene heater burned their house, killing two of the children.

Orgal Opata was indicted on charges of murder, exposing children to fire, felony child abuse and arson-injury to a firefighter.

One-year-old Gabriel Hawthorne and his brother, 2-year-old Josiah, were both killed in that fire last month.

Josiah and Gabriel's grandmother was in court Monday where Opata was supposed to have a bond hearing. That hearing was cancelled.

Alesia Greene says that if Opata needed a babysitter, she knew she could call her. That's why she says she will come to court to speak up for her grandchildren.

"I'm going to be here every day that she has to go to court because they can't speak for themselves," Greene said.

The Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services had been investigating Opata for repeatedly leaving her children home alone with claims going back two years.

The toddlers' father, Jerry Hawthorne, says he is fighting for custody of the two older children who survived.

Those children are currently in the custody of the Department of Social Services.

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