Source: The Daily Cougar
A monument topped by a statue of an eagle remembers Kimberly Smith and Lewis Mayo, two Houston firefighters who lost their lives in a blaze at a Southwest Houston McDonald’s on Valentine’s Day. The monument was erected recently in front of Fire Station 76.
A Houston jury decided the fate today of three teenagers convicted in the deaths of two firefighters in February following closing arguments and emotional testimony from the families of the victims during the penalty phase of the trial, officials said.
Lewis Mayo III
Allen Gerome Davis, 17, received 15 years at the Texas Department of Corrections, Pedro Isreal Loredo, 19, received 35 years and his brother Juan Manuel Torres, 17, received 20 years. Each teenager also received $10,000 fines on each case, according to Stephanie Armand, court coordinator.
Firefighter Lewis Mayo III, a 19-year-veteran, and Firefighter Kimberly Smith, on the job since 1995, were both part of the first due fire attack team assigned to Engine 76 at a McDonald’s restaurant fire in the early morning hours of Feb. 14.
The veterans were killed when a roof collapsed, causing the pair to become disoriented and separated from their officer. They died from smoke inhalation.
The three teens were charged the day after the fire with felony murder and arson, and convicted Tuesday by the same jury. They faced sentences ranging from probation to life in prison.
Lawyers for Davis and Loredo suggested during the trial that Torres et the fire intentionally out of anger that that three didn’t make the big score they anticipated. Torres’ attorney implied the blaze was accidental.
During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors introduced evidence that Loredo may have been involved with or planned other robberies at McDonald’s restaurants, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The three teens admitted breaking into the darkened McDonald’s early Feb. 14, armed with a cutting torches, a key and a safe code allegedly provided by an assistant manager. They claimed they left empty-handed, but prosecutors presented evidence that showed they the teens went on a spending spree after the restaurant burned.
Prosecutors argued that the three burned the building to cover their tracks.
The sentencing included emotional testimony from the families of the victims.
Terri Mayo said she hadn’t been able to sleep since her husband’s death and the youngest of their three children continued to struggle with the loss, News2Houston reported.
“She’s mad at her father for leaving her,” Mayo said.
Buddy McDonald, Smith’s fiance, said his November marriage had been replaced with a funeral.
“I looked forward to spending the rest of my life with her… I’m still in shock that she’s not with me anymore,” McDonald said.
A 16-year-old McDonald’s night manager and another man accused of helping the three plan the break-in are awaiting trial.
Felony murder charges were levied rather than capital — which could have resulted in the death penalty in Texas — because Mayo and Smith died as a result of felony being committed, rather than being direct targets.
Mayo was the father of three children ages 13 to 23. He was a soccer coach for his daughter’s team and owned a lawn business on his off days.
Smith was a Combat Challenge veteran who was actively involved in her community.
“Kimberly loved being a firefighter,” Smith’s sister, Suzette told Firehouse.Com earlier this year. “She was a dedicated and loyal member of your fraternity.”
Source: Lifesaving Resources
Name: Kimberly Smith, Firefighter
Dept: Houston Fire Department
Date of Incident: 2/14/00
Date of Death: 2/14/00
Cause: Died as the result of a roof collapse while searching for an injured firefighter at a McDonald’s restaurant fire.