FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 11, 2017
Dyker Heights Woman Indicted for Starting a Fire
In her Building and Killing Two Tenants
Allegedly Lit up a Trash Can; Accelerant Detected on her Shoes
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a 22-year-old woman from Dyker Heights, Brooklyn has been indicted for arson and murder in connection with a fatal fire that killed two tenants in the building where she lived. The defendant allegedly set a fire in a trash can located in a first-floor staircase, then left the building.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “The alleged actions of this defendant displayed a complete and callous disregard for human life, and caused two tragic but avoidable deaths. We will now seek justice for the victims and their loved ones for the heartbreaking loss that they suffered.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Joanna Mei, 22, of 11th Avenue in Dyker Heights. She was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog on an indictment in which she is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree arson. She was ordered held without bail and to return to court on February 6, 2018. The defendant faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on November 9, 2017, a little before 7 a.m., the defendant, who lived on the top floor of a three-story building, allegedly lit a candle and newspapers that were in a trash can in the first-floor staircase. She flipped the can and left the building with the fire still burning, the evidence shows.
The blaze spread quickly and killed Xi Huang, 58, and Feng Xu, 56, who lived in the building.
Video surveillance captured the defendant exiting the building moments before calls were made to 911 to report the fire. Traces of an accelerant were detected on the defendant’s shoes.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Ernest Chin, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Timothy Gough, Bureau Chief.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.