Subscribe for 17¢ / day

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A 23-year-old woman was charged Wednesday with killing 16 fellow patients at a nursing home earlier this year by setting fire to her bedding with a cigarette lighter.

Lesley Andino, a former patient at Greenwood Health Center, was charged with 16 counts of arson murder and a single count of arson. She faces life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutor James Thomas said he doesn't know when Andino, who is undergoing psychiatric care in a hospital, will be arrested.

"That will be up to the police," Thomas said.

Andino told police she started the Feb. 26 blaze while lying in bed and flicking her lighter. But tests by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives show the sheets could not have ignited immediately and that the lighter's flame was held to them.

The pre-dawn fire forced some patients into the bitter cold. Ten people died that day and six more died later.

Patients at the facility included the elderly, mentally handicapped and younger psychiatric patients. Fire officials said there was no sprinkler system in the building, but it was up to code and fire extinguishers were present.

State Sen. Edith Prague has said she will push for legislation to prevent patients with serious psychiatric problems from being placed into nursing and convalescent homes.

Other bills have been proposed since the blaze, including one requiring all nursing homes to be fitted for sprinkler systems. Under current fire codes, Greenwood is not required to have a sprinkler system; 20 of Connecticut's 241 licensed nursing homes are not fitted with sprinkler systems, according to the state officials.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

0
0
0
0
0