3rd child dies in fire, mother's charges upgraded

DECATUR, Ga. -- The mother of a woman charged in the deaths of three of her children who died in a house fire is speaking out in defense of her daughter.

Rockell Coleman is charged with three counts of felony murder and five counts of cruelty to children after a fatal house fire on Friday night. Three of Coleman's children died in the fire, while two others were hurt.

Police said that the five children were left home alone. Coleman's mother, Lydia Pinckney, said that the 28-year-old was at a restaurant with friends, but she said that an adult friend of the family was supposed to have been there with the children.

"As my daughter told the police ,Tanisha was supposed to be watching them that night when all of this happened, but from that night to now, it's like she disappeared from the face of the earth," Pinckney said.

Pinckney said that her daughter was so distraught by the loss of her kids that she had to be sedated.

"For them to take my daughter down and to question her while she was still under narcotics -- I'm not understanding why you would question somebody that you knew had got heavily sedated while they were in the emergency room," Pinckney said.

A magistrate held a first hearing on Saturday for Coleman. She was denied bond.

"I have two grandbabies that is dead," Pinckney said. "I have another one that is fighting for his life, the one that I watched come into this world -- my oldest grandbaby. And instead of them actually doing a thorough investigation you just want to go and slap charges on someone without even investigating."

The oldest grandchild, who was 10, died Dec. 15 of his injuries.

As part of the investigation, police are talking to eyewitnesses from the fire, including the children who survived.

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