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Woman Gets Six Life Sentences for Setting Fire That Killed Her Children

October 4, 1993

BALTIMORE (AP) _ A woman was sentenced Monday to six consecutive life terms for setting a rowhouse fire that killed six of her seven children.

Tonya Lucas, 29, who maintains she is innocent, received the maximum sentence.

Lucas’ relatives appeared at the sentencing in Baltimore Circuit Court wearing black and white T-shirts that read ″Free Her. Tonya Lucas is Innocent.″

Mrs. Lucas, her boyfriend William Cook, and her 8-year-old son, William Lucas, escaped the July 1992 fire but heavy smoke choked the others, who were ages 2 months to 12 years.

According to trial testimony, Lucas set the fire hoping to get relief aid because she was facing eviction, and to conceal abuse of her 2-year-old son, Gregory, who weighed 10 pounds at his death.

A jury convicted Lucas in July of murder and arson. A previous trial ended April 1 with the jury deadlocked.

Defense attorney, Mark Van Bavel, is appealing the conviction based on the judge’s decision to allow testimony about drugs and child abuse.

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