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Man who admitted to fire that killed 2 brothers sentenced

The Associated Press
Posted: Aug. 14, 2019 7:00 am Updated: Aug. 14, 2019 5:07 pm

KANKAKEE, Ill. (AP) A 30-year prison sentence has been handed a northern Illinois man who pleaded guilty to setting a fire that killed two boys.

In pleading guilty earlier this year, 65-year-old Alex Sawyer said he was upset a landlord didn't return his security deposit when he set the April 13, 2016 fire in Kankakee that killed brothers 4-year-old Justice Stewart and 2-year-old JuShaun Watson.

Sawyer entered a blind plea in April, allowing Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott to determine his sentence. He must serve 100 percent of the sentence she handed down Wednesday.

Crystal Ward's two sons died several days after they were pulled from the second story by rescue personnel. Before Ward read her impact statement, prosecutor Joe Kosman asked her if she approved of the plea agreement.

Ward said one reason she approved was that it would be hard to put the family through a trial and reliving the events.