A 53-year-old man accused of an intentional apartment fire that took the lives of two children in March 2012 had reportedly threatened to do so mere minutes before allegedly starting the blaze.
"I'm going to burn this b---- down," Timothy D. Dingle allegedly told Elizabeth Young in a flurry of expletives on March 27, 2012, the night the woman's unit in Lantana Apartments caught fire while her two youngest children, Aaliyiah and Robert Jackson, 10 and 11, respectively, were asleep upstairs.
The children were rescued from the home by firefighters but died four days later.
The state has so far presented eight witnesses in its case against Dingle, who is charged with two counts of first-degree arson and murder. Third Circuit Solicitor Ernest A. "Chip" Finney III told 3rd Circuit Judge George C. "Buck" James on Tuesday afternoon that he expects to call four to five more witnesses today.
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Witnesses called Tuesday included experts in forensic pathology and arson, along with two of the children's siblings, Anastasia and Trymaine Young.
Anastasia Young told jurors she knew Dingle as "Julio" and that the man had been staying with her mother off and on in Apt. 62 of Lantana Apartments on Carolina Avenue for about two months when the fire was set.
"Mom and Julio were arguing that night at the apartment," Anastasia said. "I don't really know what about, but he was threatening to burn the apartment down."
Trymaine told jurors that his mother and Dingle were arguing about moving away from the apartment. Dyshaun Hunter, Anastasia Young's boyfriend, told jurors he also heard Dingle threaten to burn the apartment down.
"Those were his choice of words when he was angry and intoxicated," Hunter said. "They (Elizabeth Young and Dingle) had been drinking that day. They'd come home arguing."
Dingle is alleged to have started the fire in three places — on a mattress and a folding-type chair in the master bedroom and another mattress in a room adjacent to the children's bedroom — shortly after Elizabeth and Anastasia Young and Hunter left the apartment to go to Elizabeth Young's goddaughter's house.
"We were there a good 30 minutes or so, and then we heard the (sirens), so I went running back to the house," Hunter said Tuesday.
Hunter and Trymaine told jurors that they discovered Dingle nearby the apartment and that they "took him down."
"I knocked him down," Hunter said. "And we kept him there until police got there to get him."
Sumter Fire Department Senior Fireman H. Lyle Wescott and Engineer Christopher Geddings both testified Monday that they had to locate the children in an upstairs bedroom by feeling around the room. Wescott reported that Aaliyiah was unconscious and limp as he took her to a Sumter Emergency Medical Services unit. She died four days later at Palmetto Health Richland, while Robert died a few hours after his sister at the Augusta Burn Center in Augusta, Ga.
Dr. Janis E. Ross, a forensic pathologist from Newberry, testified Tuesday that the Jackson children never regained consciousness and that they died primarily from smoke and heat inhalation. She said Robert Jackson had more thermal injuries than his sister, with about 30 percent of his body covered with second- and third-degree burns.
"By the time he was taken out of the fire, his brain was too badly damaged by carbon monoxide," Ross said.
State Law Enforcement Division Special Agent Sterling Seals testified that the children's room likely exceeded 500 degrees during the fire. Because of the damage to an aluminum window frame, he estimated the fire in the adjacent room exceeded temperatures in the 1,200-degree range.He also ruled out any accidental cause for the fire.
"There were three points of origin, with one point (the folding-type chair) self-extinguishing," he said.The trial will continue at 9:30 a.m. today at the judicial center.