District Attorney W. Dewayne Richardson announced today that a Washington County Jury returned Guilty verdicts on six (6) criminal charges against Jennifer York on the evening of Wednesday, August 4, 2021. The trial, which began on Monday, August 2, was tried in the Circuit Court of Washington County and presided over by Judge Margaret Carey-McCray. Sentencing in the case has been continued pending a pre-sentence investigation ordered by the Court.
The charges against York included two (2) counts of Manslaughter by Culpable Negligence and four (4) counts of Child Neglect stemming from a house fire which occurred on December 28, 2016 at 1421 East Ollie Circle in Greenville.
At trial, testimony revealed that around midnight on December 28, 2016, Jennifer York left her six (6) children at her residence on Ollie Circle alone, while the residence did not have electricity, and over twenty (20) candles were lit throughout the home for light. The children, ranging in ages from one (1) to fourteen (14), awoke to the house engulfed in flames and Jennifer York nowhere to be found.
Four of the children, ages fourteen (14), twelve (12), eight (8) and four (4) were able to escape the blaze. Tragically, a one (1) year old child and a three (3) year old child perished in the fire.
Investigators with the State Fire Marshall’s Office, along with the Greenville Police Department and Greenville Fire Department, arrived on the scene shortly following the outbreak of the fire. After the blaze was extinguished, investigators discovered the bodies of two (2) young children in a rear bedroom.
It was revealed at trial that Jennifer York, who was supposedly away from the home at the casino, did not return home until nearly an hour after the fire initially started. York arrived after fire personnel, law enforcement and the Coroner. The Jury was also provided with testimony that the power to Jennifer York’s home had been cut-off since July of 2016, five (5) months prior to the deadly fire.
The case against York was tried by Assistant District Attorneys M. Austin Frye and Takiyah H. Perkins. Mr. Frye and Ms. Perkins expressed their gratitude towards the members of the Jury who decided the difficult case, along with the Greenville Police Department, Greenville Fire Department, and State Fire Marshall’s Office who were exceptionally diligent in their investigation of the incident. Frye stated: “[i]t’s beyond tragic that it takes the loss of two young, innocent lives for a mother to realize that there are duties, both legally and morally, that you are bound by when you bring children into this world . . . I’m beyond thankful that the Jury carefully considered the evidence in this case and returned a verdict that provides at least some justice to the memory of the infant and toddler who perished on that tragic night.”