Not guilty plea from suspect in Evansville deadly apartment fire

(Source: Evansville Police Department)
(Source: Evansville Police Department)

EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Christopher Compton appeared via video before a judge in Vanderburgh County court on Friday and entered a not guilty plea.

Throughout the hearing he was slumped over the podium. He seemed antsy and uninterested while the judge read the formal charges against him.

Compton interrupted Judge Pigman as he read the 13 courts against him - three counts of murder and ten counts of arson.

After each one asked the judge asked Compton if he understood. Compton's only responses were 'yeah,' 'yep,' and 'yup.'

He's also accused of being an habitual offender which means he has two previous felony convictions. Those convictions include battery by bodily waste in 2005 and battery with serious bodily injury in 2006.

The habitual offender enhancement could add 30 years to his sentence.

Police say Compton admitted he set the fire on West Franklin Street that killed three people, including a child.

Compton was found indigent and will be assigned a court-appointed lawyer.

His next hearing is set for April 17.

The Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's office says the minimum Compton could get is life without parole, but the death penalty is also an option.

Family members say they want Compton punished to the fullest extent of the law, "He knows what he done wrong.  He needs to be put on death row.  And I know his family probably wont' like it, but that's what I think he needs to have done.  That probably would put us in peace," said Sandy Byard, family member of victims.

All of the people who were hurt in the fire are now out of the hospital.

The family of the victims is holding a vigil on Saturday night at 7:00 at the apartment building on West Franklin Street.

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