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Woman sentenced in Waterloo fire that killed 9-year-old boy, his mother

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WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — A woman was sentenced Monday to two life sentences for starting a fire that killed a 9-year-old boy and his mother in Waterloo.

Denise Susanna O’Brien, 45, was convicted in November of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Ashely Smith, 32, and her son, Jaykwon Sallis, on April 22, 2018.

Prosecutors said O’Brien was upset that her boyfriend was staying at Smith’s house with another woman. The boyfriend and the other woman escaped but the two victims were found dead in an upstairs bedroom, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Joel Dalrymple said evidence showed O’Brien intended to trap everyone inside when she set fires at the front and back doors of the home.

Defense attorney Wendy Samuelson said O’Brien maintains that she is innocent.

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