Georgia mother accused of butchering her children and setting her house ablaze faces death penalty

News & Politics

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against a 40-year-old Georgia woman who is accused of maliciously murdering three of her seven children and turning her home into an inferno.

According to the Paulding County sheriff’s office, on June 24, police received a domestic disturbance and house fire report at 776 Woodwind Dr. in Rockmart, Georgia. A female inside the house was reportedly trying to stab other occupants as fire began to spread.

In one 911 call, a neighbor told police, “The mom had killed the infant and is trying to kill the other children. …They just jumped out the window, escaping the chaos.”

Paulding County deputies and firefighters arrived on the scene and rushed in to rescue Darlene Brister and her children. However, little could be done for the 3-year-old and 9-month-old baby, who were pronounced dead at the scene, the former having been found stabbed multiple times.

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Three additional children, ages 5, 9, and 11, were rushed to local hospitals. The 5-year-old succumbed to injuries in the hospital. Though in critical condition, the 9-year-old survived.

In their search, firefighters and deputies found two additional children: a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old, neither of whom were injured.

After the fire was extinguished, investigators, including agents from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, sought to determine the cause of the chaos.

Darlene Brister was subsequently arrested and charged with two counts of malice murder. On June 26, Brister was also charged with arson and an additional count of malice murder.

On August 31, a Paulding County grand jury indicted Brister on three counts of malice murder, three counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of first-degree arson, and seven counts of first-degree cruelty to children.

Paulding County district attorney Matthew Rollins announced on Thursday that he would seek the death penalty against Brister. “This is not a decision that I have reached lightly, but given the facts and circumstances surrounding this case, I feel this is the appropriate action.”


‘The mom had already killed the baby’ | Chilling details released in 911 calls from Paulding County

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Brister’s husband, Ricky, who indicated he now lives for the children he has left, told WAGA-TV: “She lost it.”

Though devastated by the actions taken by his wife of 17 years, Ricky noted that his wife’s battle with depression along with his faith are grounds for exercising some compassion. “I’m a Christian man and I have Christian values,” he said. “My message is a message of compassion for everybody. There’s nothing else that’s going to help us get past this.”

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