published Thursday, February 20th, 2014

DeKalb County, GA woman, boyfriend charged in deaths of children

DECATUR, Ga. — A woman and her boyfriend were indicted Thursday in the deaths of two of the woman's young children.

A DeKalb County grand jury indicted Angel Johnson and Keith Pinkney on charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree cruelty to children and making false statements. It was the third time the two had been indicted in the December 2010 deaths.

Authorities say the pair left Johnson's 2-, 3- and 4-year-old children alone, barricaded in a room of a Stone Mountain apartment with a space heater. Investigators say the space heater caused a fire that killed two of the children. The 2-year-old survived but suffered severe burns.

Johnson's attorney said he couldn't comment because he hadn't seen the new indictment. The public defender's office, which is representing Pinkney, didn't immediately respond to an email Thursday.

A police report from the time indicates that Johnson told an officer who responded to a 911 call that she and Pinkney were smoking a cigarette in the breezeway when they smelled smoke and came in to find the bedroom door locked. She went into the room and carried the children out, she told the officer.

One neighbor said Johnson and Pinkney's car wasn't there when she came home about 15 minutes before the time of the 911 call. Another neighbor told the officer she saw Johnson and Pinkney drive up with Pinkney's infant son a few minutes before the 911 call was placed.

Both neighbors reported hearing a loud scream and exiting their apartments to see Johnson and Pinkney taking the children out of the apartment.

A firefighter did a thermal heat imaging test on the couple's vehicle and determined it had been recently driven. And the responding police officer reported finding a Burger King bag with food inside and a receipt time stamped just under a half-hour before the 911 call.

District Attorney Robert James, who plans to be the lead prosecutor, says indictments were handed down for the third time in the case because of technical legal problems with the previous indictments.

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