A Chickasha woman is on trial for intentionally setting a blind man's house on fire last September, binding his feet and blocking his escape from the burning home. At first, investigators thought it was an accident, but it later turned into a murder case and Andrea Sledge - who was formerly married to a relative of the victim - became the focus of their investigation.
In the Grady County courtroom, the state's key witness was Lawton Fire Chief Bart Hadley. He took the stand Tuesday afternoon. Hadley and his assistant were in Chickasha when the fire began. They rescued the victim, Maurice Givens who later died.
Hadley told the jury about red flags that went up during the rescue and after. He and his assistant were off duty looking for a new part for one of Lawton's fire trucks. While test driving a similar truck that belonged to the Chickasha Fire Department, the call for help went out.
The fire was right in the path of the test drive. Hadley said once they got there they saw who he identified as Sledge. She was watching the duplex burn. Hadley asked the woman if anyone was inside the building and he says she told him there was. That's when he went inside and began the rescue.
Hadley, once inside, noticed a cabinet blocking the front of the room where the fire was at its worst. He moved the cabinet and heard moaning. It was then that he and his assistant were able to pull Givens from the blaze.
Hadley told the jury that he noticed something strange about the cabinet - it was turned backward, blocking the entryway of Givens' bedroom. Sledge's mother, who feels the fire scene was botched by Hadley, testified in the preliminary hearing that Hadley had moved the cabinet. Hadley says he did, indeed, move the cabinet - but, only in order to maneuver through the fire.
While Hadley was still on the scene, he told the local investigators about the strange location of the cabinet and that he noticed Sledge had soot on her face. He asked Sledge if she was inside the house and she answered that she was - she was taking a nap in the front room sofa while the victim lay in his bedroom.
Once Givens was in the ambulance, an EMT tended to givens and testified that no one had noticed the cord binding the victim's legs until they were on the way to the hospital. Defense Council asked why he hadn't asked the victim about the cord. The EMT said it was not his job to interview the victim.
Sledge is charged with second degree murder and possession of methamphetamine and is being held without bond. The case is expected to last the week.