Trial pushed back for man accused in triple-fatal Laflin fire

By Patrick Kernan - [email protected]
Bonnett -

WILKES-BARRE — A Luzerne County judge has pushed back the trial for a man accused of setting fire to a home, killing the three children inside.

But the judge said there would be no more delays.

Preston Bonnett, 27, of Wilkes-Barre, appeared before Judge Michael T. Vough on Friday for a pre-trial motions hearing.

Bonnett is accused of starting a fire at a Laflin home in October, killing the three children of Susan Major: Ezekiel Major, 7, Devon Major, 12, and Erik Dupree, 16. He’s facing three counts each of homicide and arson.

His defense team made a motion for a continuance Friday, saying they needed more time to go over evidence.

Vough, who had previously set the trial date for Aug. 20, told the defense team he would move the date, but only once.

“I’ll move it, but I’m not gonna move it again,” he said.

Bonnett’s trial is now set for the week of Jan. 28, 2019. Vough told attorneys to also block out the following week of Feb. 4.

“We’re getting this case done in that two-week period,” he said.

With the trial pushed back, Vough also postponed Friday’s pre-trial motion hearing, moving it to Nov. 29.

Vough said he’s hoping the extra six months will allow both sides to complete necessary work on the case.

“My intention is not to move this trial again,” he reiterated before bringing the session to a close.

Bonnett will also stand trial in January for counts of access device fraud and related charges stemming from an alleged credit card manufacturing scheme that was hatched in Major’s home.

His alleged co-conspirator, Tyla Marie Griffin, 29, pleaded guilty to the charges earlier this year and was sentenced to 24 months in the intermediate punishment program, or IPP, a probation program designed for offenders with substance abuse issues.

Police say Bonnett and Griffin were staying in Major’s home, but Major kicked them out after discovering the scheme.


By Patrick Kernan

[email protected]

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan

Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan