Evaluation ordered for man accused killing 4 children in Illinois blaze
By Brendan Marks
Derrick Twardoski, 33, is accused of deliberately starting a fire that killed (from L to R) Landon Owen, 5, Brandon Owen, 5, Kailey Owen, 9, and Ethan Owen, 12. By Belo Content KMOV
CHESTER, Ill.— A judge has ordered a mental evaluation of a man accused of setting a house fire that killed four children in Percy, Ill. earlier this month.
The mental fitness examination for 33-year-old Derrick Twardoski was requested Monday by James Kelley, his Randolph County public defender. That gives him 30 days to get an evaluation from a doctor to determine whether he is fit to stand trial.
A hearing on the testing’s outcome is scheduled for June 20.
He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of first-degree murder in the May 10 deaths of Ethan Owen, 12, Kailey Owen, 9, and Brandon and Landon Owen, who were 5-year-old twins.
Officials say three adults and a 6-year-old child were able to escape the blaze.
The county’s state’s attorney, Jeremy Walker, has said he doesn’t consider the fire random, although he has declined to say why authorities suspect Twardoski set it or whether Twardoski knew anyone who lived in the home.