News

Man Responsible for Deadly Arson Apologizes to Child’s Family

Tatum Sentencing

Jesse Tatum Sentenced for Deadly Arson

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – It was judgement day Monday for a man who plead guilty to a secondary murder for a fatal fire that killed an eight-year-old girl.

A judge ordered Jesse Tatum on Monday to spend no less to 39 years in prison for the Nov. 29, 2012 incident in which Karrina Johnson of Battle Creek was killed during the blaze.

Tatum set the Young Street home on fire after an argument with Janeen Johnson, Karrina’s mother.   Two other children were in the house during the fire, but managed to escape by jumping out the second story window.

Karrina’s aunt

Aunt of Victim Speaks in Court Monday

During the sentencing Monday, the eight-year-old girl’s aunt addressed the court, saying Tatum deserved the maximum sentence of life in prison.  The defense said Monday Tatum’s intent was never to hard the children, saying he knocked on the door to make sure nobody was home.  In court, Tatum apologized to the victim’s family.  He said he would have never set the fire if he knew children were inside.

Tatum pleaded guilty to second-degree murder as a habitual offender Dec. 2, 2013.

A Battle Creek man had already plead guilty to being an accessory after the fact in the fire.  Michael Roberson, 27, was sentenced to three years of probation, according to Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.

karrina johnson 2

Eight-year-old Karrina Johnson

Tatum set the Young Street home on fire after an argument with Janeen Johnson, Karrina’s mother.   Two other children were in the house during the fire, but managed to escape by jumping out the second story window.

Roberson’s cooperation was key to bringing him to justice, according to Calhoun County officials.

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