Indiana dad convicted in twin sons’ 2014 house fire deaths

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A Lafayette man has been has convicted in his twin 3-year-old sons’ house fire deaths more than two years after a judge vacated his earlier guilty plea in their 2014 deaths.

A Tippecanoe County jury on Thursday convicted Brandon Abbott on 13 counts, including two counts of neglect resulting in death, the Journal & Courier reported. He’s set to be sentenced Sept. 13.

Abbott’s attorneys had wanted jurors to debate whether he was guilty of a lesser level of neglect. His attorney Stacy Uliana, said in closing arguments, that Abbott could not have foreseen the April 2014 fire that killed twins Landon and Liam Abbott.

“There has to be something more than neglectful. It has to be foreseeable,” she argued.

But Tippecanoe County Deputy Prosecutor Cassidy Laux challenged the characterization that Abbott could not have foreseen the fatal fire, which occurred after Abbott slept off a night of partying as his twins were left unattended downstairs.

The boys died from smoke inhalation in the rented house near the town of Mulberry, about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis, while on a weekend visit with their father.

Abbott had pleaded guilty in March 2015 to two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death and was sentenced to 70 years in prison.

A judge vacated his plea, conviction and sentence in February 2019 after an attorney for Abbott argued in part that his sentence was illegal because his guilty pleas were not made knowingly or voluntarily.

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