A convicted arsonist in Cleveland was sentenced to 35 years for setting a house on fire and killing nine people, including eight children.
Antun Lewis, 30, was convicted of setting the deadliest fire in Cleveland history. Medeia Carter, 33, her four children and four children attending a sleepover at her home died on May 21, 2005.
The victims’ families had asked for life in prison.
Carter’s mother, Evelyn Martin, spoke at the sentencing hearing. Six of the eight children who perished were Martin’s grandchildren.
When she learned about the fire she rushed to the home screaming again and again: "Where are my babies?"
She recalled the horror of seeing her grandchildren in body bags.
"I had to stand there and watch them bring them out one by one," she said.
One grandson survived the fire with severe burns. She described his skin falling off. He later died.
"I hope you live long enough so all the skin falls off your damned body," she said to Lewis, who did not look at her, USA Today reported.
One victim's father said Lewis should be placed in a giant and oil-filled skillet and suffer excruciating burns.
Rosalind Golden, whose 13-year-old grandson Miles Cockfield died in the fire, said Lewis took a wonderful person from the world.
"I don't mean to cry every day," Golden said, fighting back tears. "I pray to God just not to cry today."
"This defendant is responsible for taking nine innocent lives,” said U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach. “A coward in the night, he also stole the hopes and dreams of these families, who will never get to experience high school graduations, weddings, or the other things they had a right to enjoy. Nothing can ever erase the pain this defendant caused, and our hearts go to them all. Their grace and dignity in the face of this tragedy is humbling.”
Lewis will get credit for time served since 2009.