Verdict decided in Bonnett trial


A Luzerne County jury has returned the verdict for a man accused of torching a Laflin home in 2017, killing three young brothers inside. Preston Bonnett has been found guilty of second and third-degree murder and arson.

Emotions ran high after the verdict was read. Preston Bonnett and his family members screamed inside the courtroom. They said the court system was racist. Sheriff’s deputies had to restrain them.

The jury deliberated for about four hours believing the prosecution that Bonnett set the Susan Major house on fire on the night of October 25, 2017, because he was angry and the boys’ mother, Susan Major, for kicking him out of the house in June of that year.

16-year-old Erik Dupree, 12-year-old Deon Major and 7-year-old Ezekiel Major were killed in the fire. Defense lawyers argued that the fire could have started because of an electrical short in an electrical baseboard heater or possible careless smoking. Bonnett maintained his innocence as he was escorted out of the Luzerne County Courthouse.

“The burn marks prove my innocence.Anybody can look at the burn marks. It’s common sense,” Bonnett said.

When asked why he was on Major’s back porch the night of the fire, Bonnett responded “I was getting my (expletive) that she kept.”

Evidence presented in the trial included home security video that showed Bonnett lurking on the back porch of the Laflin home with a flashlight and carrying what appears to be a cigarette lighter. The fire was spotted by neighbors a few minutes later. Susan Major cried as she left the courtroom but did not speak with reporters.

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