New Details In Castle West Fire

By: McKenzie Martin Email
By: McKenzie Martin Email

New information's out in the Castle West fire case that's giving us a glimpse at how prosecutors zeroed in on their suspects.

One of the suspects, Gene Johnson is now only facing accessory to murder charges in the fire that gutted this apartment complex. Prosecutors meanwhile charged his cousin with 9 counts, including the more serious charge of first-degree murder. Also for the first time the court unsealed arrest warrants offering shocking details.

When fire engulfed the Castle West apartments in January, killing two, witnesses say Derrick Johnson was making no secret of wanting to kill his ex-girlfriend who was staying there, according to newly released charging documents.

Johnson was charged Wednesday for the first time since the fire. This affidavit says friends heard him threatening his former girlfriend saying he was going to blow up the apartments and quote "kill her baby by torturing it and then putting it on a barbecue grill and burning it."

But Johnson also told police that it was his cousin, Gene Johnson who actually started the fire. He stated that Gene went inside the apartments and was gone for about 10 to 15 seconds when quote" he described hearing a swooshing sound."

Derrick Johnson changed his story several times during police interviews, but according to the affidavit, one witness, Izah Yates, confirmed both cousins bought gas and a gas can.

Yates also told investigators Derrick was the one who carried the gas toward the apartments. He lost sight of him, but noticed Gene Johnson was standing some distance away. That Johnson, now just charged as an accessory, caused such a commotion in court Wednesday, the judge had to silence him.

Gene Johnson's bond has been set at 10-thousand dollars. He could be released as early as Wednesday night.

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