UPDATE: Macon police use tip to arrest third suspect in fatal arson

pramati@macon.comJuly 21, 2008 

Macon police arrested a third person Sunday night on charges related to a July 14 fire that killed two children.

Police officials said Shawntrice Murray was arrested late Sunday during a traffic stop on Mercer University Drive. She is being charged with one count of arson and two counts of murder, according to a police news release.

Murray joins Latoshia Yvette Wyche, 27, and Anthony Desean Braswell, 36, who were arrested Thursday and each charged with one count of arson and two counts of murder. Braswell also is charged with violation of parole, from a previous conviction for aggravated assault.

Capt. Jimmy Barbee said police were acting on a tip that Murray would be in the vicinity of Mercer University Drive sometime Sunday night and had family in the area. Police blanketed the area and spotted Murray's car. Once she was stopped, officers discovered 25 individual packages of marijuana in the car, Barbee said.

A male in the car, Shawn Gordon of Covington, was arrested on charges of possession and intent to distribute. He already was being sought on an outstanding warrant by Covington police and was turned over into their custody Monday, Barbee said.

Barbee said the investigation is ongoing, and he is awaiting results from the crime lab.

According to the arrest warrant, Braswell is accused of pouring gasoline from a plastic sports drink bottle onto the porch of 417 Moseley Ave. to start the July 14 early morning fire. The arrest warrant also says Murray and Wyche accompanied Braswell.

Two children, Hezekiah Harris, 2, and Tydarious Harris, 4, were killed in the blaze. Because the children died as a result of the alleged arson, their deaths have been ruled as homicides.

Surveillance video from an Enmark service station on Mercer University Drive showed Wyche among a group of people who bought gas there early Monday morning.

The fuel was pumped into a separate container in addition to a car, police said.

Braswell is accused of pouring gasoline from a plastic sports drink bottle onto the porch of the house just before 4 a.m. Monday, according to an arrest warrant.

The house was completely engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived. Three adults and five children were inside the house at the time. The boys' mother, Ernistine Frye, went back into the house but couldn't find them through the smoke and went back outside, Barbee said.

Two firefighters managed to get inside the house and pull out the two sleeping boys as smoke filled their bedroom. Despite receiving immediate CPR, the boys died of smoke inhalation, officials said.

Barbee said police suspected a fight that took place a few blocks away earlier that day might have been the motive for the alleged arson. Barbee said alcohol may have been part of the reason for the fight, but police didn't have any information as to what provoked it.

— Information from The Telegraph's archives was used in this report.

—Staff writers Jennifer Burk, Amy Leigh Womack and Phillip Ramati contributed to this report.

For more on this story, come back to macon.com and read Tuesday's Telegraph.

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