Woman charged in deadly fire appears in court

February 23, 2011 10:58:33 AM PST
The woman accused of setting a deadly fire in southeast Houston made her first court appearance Wednesday morning and we are now hearing from the suspect's sister who was the alleged target. An 11-year-old boy was killed in that fire, and the motive for setting it was reiterated in court this morning -- the suspect allegedly did it to scare her sister.

At 2am Wednesday, Rosalidia Romero, 40, faced a judge on arson charges. She's accused of felony arson causing bodily injury or death in a weekend apartment fire which took the life of a child. Jorge Galan, 11, was unable to escape the fire, which started in an apartment beneath his.

Rosalidia Romero, who is a Honduran national, will remain in custody on an immigration hold, despite having her bond set at $250,000.

Elizabeth Romero says she never imagined herself here, trying to salvage what's left of her belongings and move into a new apartment after her sister, Rosalidia Romero, was arrested for setting fire to Elizabeth's apartment on Saturday. Elizabeth says it took her by surprise. She heard some noise that night, then saw the fire.

"She became angry when she heard that she may be evicted from the apartment occupied by her sister and her sister's husband," said prosecutors in court.

According to court statements, investigators say Rosalidia confessed to setting fire to some clothing in a bag in a patio closet, trying to scare her sister after Elizabeth and her husband threatened to throw her out.

The resulting fire took down almost 20 units, caused a million dollars in damage and took the life of Jorge Galan. There were children at the Romero residence and all around.

On Tuesday, Eyewitness News talked to neighbors about Romero.

"That's crazy. That lady was out here yesterday like nothing," said neighbor Tina Perez.

"Who got hurt in the incident? An innocent person and that's ridiculous," resident Wesley Williams said.

"You don't play with nothing like that. I've got kids of my own. Couldn't even come out of my door with my kids," Perez said.

Elizabeth says she is deeply sorry for the loss of the child and as much as it pains her because it's her sister, a child died, and she knows her sister may have to pay dearly for what has happened.

Rosalidia Romero has asked for a court-appointed lawyer. If convicted on the charge, she could face five to 99 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.