Tulsan's Trial In Deadly 2009 Apartment Fire Begins This Week
TULSA, Oklahoma - Jury selection was delayed until Tuesday in the trial of a 46-year-old Tulsa man charged a 2009 meth lab fire which killed two residents of a South Tulsa apartment complex.
Mark Roberts is charged with two counts of murder, first degree arson and manufacturing a controlled and dangerous substance in connection with fire at the Royal Arms Apartments on March 10, 2009.
Roberts was injured in the fire and spent almost two months in the hospital before he was formally charged.
The smoke and flames rose high into the night. Eight units were destroyed. Police believe Mark Roberts was making meth inside his apartment when it caught fire.
Crews couldn't save Maria Martinez or her friend, Armando Nunez. He left behind a wife and children.
"I think something has to happen for people to know they just can't do this, especially in areas like apartments, that's awful," the victim's wife, Sharon Nunez, said in 2009.
A 911 recording captured the desperate voice of apartment resident Nikki Cain:
Dispatcher: "Are you on the second floor, ma'am?"
Cane: "Yes sir, yes sir."
Dispatcher: "Stay on the phone. Don't hang up. We're getting there as fast as we can."
Cane: "I'm scared. It's smoky."
Firefighters pulled her body from a burning apartment. The quick action saved her life but friends said Cain suffered permanent brain damage from the smoke.
"I remember when I found out it was a meth lab explosion. I was livid. I was just so angry that I didn't know how to process it,"Cane's friend Ann Jamieson, said in a 2009 interview.
Cain's family has long hoped to see the man they say ruined her life, get the justice he deserves.
"He's already killed two people. As far as I'm concerned, he's killed three because she has no life. She's just laying there as a vegetable," said Deborah Morris, Cane's cousin, in 2009.
Mark Roberts was also badly burned in the fire and is in a wheelchair. His attorney plans to argue something else besides meth started the fatal fire.
"There's a number of things that could have happened to cause the fire. It's our position that something other than an active meth lab started it," said Mark Collier, defense attorney.
Both sides, hoping to find answers in a three-year-old tragedy. The trial is taking place in the Tulsa County courthouse.