Two women accused of leaving four children alone in a home where a fire broke out, killing two of them, were each ordered held on $100,000 bond Monday.
Tatiana Meakens, 23, the mother of the four children, and her sister, Britany Meakens, 22, left the home in the 6400 block of South Prairie Avenue while their children were sleeping, said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Jamie Dickler. A hot plate being used for heat in a bedroom where the two victims slept sparked the fire early Saturday, Dickler said.
The women told firefighters and police officers responding to the fire that a cousin named Brandy was supposed to have been watching the children, but Dickler said the two women do not have a cousin by that name.
Each of the women is charged with two felony counts of endangering a child causing their death and two misdemeanor counts of endangering the life and health of a child.
Defense attorney Marijane Placek, who unsuccessfully asked Judge Israel Desierto for lower bonds, called the fire "a tragedy" and said the women "will never forgive themselves."
"These are two people who made an awful mistake," Placek said.
Killed in the fire were Jariyah Meakens, 3, and Javaris Meakens, 2, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. Two older children who escaped the blaze were put in custody of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Autopsies on Sunday found that the victims died of carbon monoxide intoxication and inhalation of smoke and soot, and their deaths were ruled accidental, according to the medical examiner's office.
Dickler said the sisters had initially agreed that Tatiana Meakens would stay home with the children so Britany Meakens could go to a mutual friend's housewarming party.
But while Britany Meakens was getting ready, Tatiana Meakens received a phone call and decided she wanted to go to a CD release party in Blue Island, prosecutors said. Tatiana Meakens ran out of the house and told her sister she was leaving despite their prior agreement, even as Britany Meakens asked her not to go, Dickler said.
Britany Meakens then left the children alone in their apartment, sleeping, and while at her party called her sister to let her know the children were alone, prosecutors said.
The fire broke out about 3:20 a.m. Saturday in a first-floor bedroom where the two victims were sleeping. The brothers who survived, Darnell Meakens, 7, and Marquis Meakens, 4, were in a back bedroom.
Tatiana Meakens returned to the home only after being notified that there was a fire, Dickler said.
At bond court Monday, Placek said the home's heat had been turned off. She later said in an interview that the women had been asked by their landlord to get out "for a number of reasons."
"They weren't being helped at this particular time," Placek said. "Nobody was sending heat to that apartment."
The building's owner could not be reached for comment Monday.
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