Montgomery man gets 50 years for starting fire that killed brother, cousin
By Matt Hanley firstname.lastname@example.org September 4, 2012 1:50PM
Theddias LeSure, charged with murders of Maurice Vaughn and Matthew LeSure
Updated: October 6, 2012 1:47PM
YORKVILLE — A Montgomery man will spend the next 47 years behind bars for starting a 2009 fire that killed two of his family members and injured two more.
Theddias LeSure pleaded guilty Friday to murder charges. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison and received credit for the time he has spent in custody since his arrest in June of 2009, the Kendall County state’s attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors said LeSure poured gasoline on his cousin, Army veteran Maurice Vaughn, 32, while Vaughn was sleeping, then set him on fire. The fire spread and gutted the two-story home on Riva Ridge Road in about 30 minutes, killing Vaughn and LeSure’s brother, Matthew LeSure, 26, who was sleeping upstairs and died of smoke inhalation. Two other people, Nakia and Kevin LeSure, escaped the fire by jumping out a second-story window.
Theddias, Matthew and Kevin LeSure are brothers. Nakia LeSure is Theddias LeSure’s sister-in-law.
Theddias LeSure was initially taken to the hospital for treatment of inhalation injuries he suffered in the fire. According to Kendall County State’s Attorney Eric Weis, while Theddias LeSure was at the hospital, he admitted to setting the fire.
“We actually had a suspect in the fire before we had recovered the bodies,” Weis said.
Weis said LeSure doused himself in water before he started the fire, in an effort to protect himself. He also had a steak knife stashed outside the house to stab people as they left, Weis said.
LeSure started the fire because he believed the family suspected him of having inappropriate contact with younger family members years ago, in other towns, Weis said. Weis said police were able to confirm at least one of the incidents of alleged inappropriate contact. LeSure has not been charged in that incident.
LeSure told police that he intended to kill everyone in the house, but neighbors arrived on the scene too soon.
LeSure entered a plea of guilty but mentally ill. That legal distinction will allow him to receive mental health treatment while he is in prison. He originally was eligible for the death penalty because multiple deaths were involved. The case was on hold for nearly a year while he received mental health treatment that allowed him to participate in his defense and understand the charges against him.
Weis said the plea agreement was reached after discussion with the victims and their families.
Maurice Vaughn’s mother, Matthew LeSure’s wife and Nakia LeSure were all in court when Theddias LeSure pleaded guilty, Weis said.
Nakia LeSure read a victim impact statement that said her family has continued to adjust to a “new norm.” She said her husband is in a wheelchair, but his injuries have not paralyzed him mentally or spiritually. Nakia LeSure said she cannot understand why Theddias LeSure started the fire.
“I don’t like (the) fact that you did what you did; I don’t agree with what you did for whatever reasons you may have; and I truly don’t understand what made you do the things that you did, given that we opened our hearts to welcome you into our home,” she wrote.
“But, the fact remains that we cannot go into the past or change the events of that night. The Word of God teaches us to forgive in order to be forgiven. And so, today, I forgive you, Theddias, and may God continue to have mercy upon you.”