FAIRFIELD (BCN) – The Solano County District Attorney’s Office has dismissed four involuntary manslaughter charges against one of two mothers whose children perished in a Fairfield apartment fire last year.

Deputy District Attorney Karen Jensen said she still intends to prosecute 24-year-old Latisha James after the November trial of James’ sister Shetarra, 25, who is charged with four counts of second-degree murder.

“It’s a tactical decision. We’ll proceed against Shetarra first. She has the heavier charges,” Jensen said Tuesday morning.

Latisha James’ trial was scheduled to being this week.

Latisha James’ 2-year-old daughter and Shetarra James’ son and two daughters, ages 1, 2, and 4, died in the April 28, 2010, fire in the 700 block of Delaware Street.

The children were alone in the home when the fire started. Testimony during the preliminary hearing indicated that the James sisters had gone outside to charge their cellphone because their electricity had been shut off.

The family was using the candles for lighting, and fire investigators believe a candle left burning on top of the television sparked the blaze.

Fairfield Fire Capt. Brad Martin testified at the hearing last year that a television and a couch burned in the fire, and that 4-year-old Robert Charles Jr. might have spread the flames when his shirt caught fire and he ran through the apartment.

Testimony also indicated that Latisha James went back into the apartment to try to save the children but suffered smoke inhalation and burns and retreated.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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