2003-11-13 / Front Page

Endangerment Charges Dropped In Deadly Fire...

By Neil S. Friedman
Endangerment Charges Dropped In Deadly Fire...

Endangerment Charges Dropped In Deadly Fire...


By Neil S. Friedman

The office of the Brooklyn District Attorney last week announced at this time it was not going to pursue charges against the Canarsie woman who left her two children home alone and subsequently died in a suspicious fire last month.

A spokesperson for DA Charles Hynes’ office told the Canarsie Courier last Thursday that the case had been "removed from the court calendar, but is still under investigation." He added, "The charges for reckless endangerment and challenging the welfare of a child were dropped
without prejudice" against Kim Brathwaite, the 35-year-old mother who left her two young children at their East 93 Street home when she left for work on October 11.

However, Douglas Rankin, the attorney representing Brathwaite last week told The New York Times the investigation was concentrating on who set the fire and had eliminated his client as a suspect.

The DA’s spokesperson explained that Brathwaite could possibly be charged at a later date if the evidence in the ongoing probe warranted it. Hynes has six months to reinstate charges against the single mother, but it is expected they will eventually
be completely dismissed.

Justina Mason, 9, and Justin, Brathwaite, 1, who both had sickle-cell anemia, were alone in the illegal basement apartment at 1299 East 93 Street, a two-story frame house near Avenue K, when their mother, described by neighbors as a hard-working woman, went to her job for
a 12-hour shift at a downtown Brooklyn fast food restaurant. Brathwaite told authorities she was afraid she’d lose her job if she failed to show up, but expected a baby-sitter to arrive shortly after she left.
The caregiver never showed up.

Detective Sergeant Pat Leahy of the 69th Precinct told the Courier last week that the case has definitely been designated a homicide. In the aftermath of the deadly blaze officials said it was a "distinct possibility" the
fire was deliberately set with an accelerant that may have been
gasoline or another flammable liquid.

When firefighters arrived at the scene around 1:30 a.m. on October 12, they found the children lying on a bedroom floor and took them outside to a front yard where they and paramedics unsuccessfully tried to save them. They were subsequently pronounced dead at Brookdale Hospital.

The NYPD announced there is now a reward totalling $12,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for setting the deadly October 12 fire. Anyone with information can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS. All calls are confidential and can be anonymous, as a special code number will be assigned to informants.

Some media reported that one of the children’s fathers had been questioned about a custody dispute he was involved in with Brathwaite, but he is currently not a suspect.

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