The intended target of the Molotov cocktail did not live in the home where the fire occurred
Atlanta–Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr., announces the MURDER conviction, by a Fulton County Superior Court Jury, of 45-year-old KENDRICK OGLETREE and 36-year-old MARK KIRKLAND.
On November 10, 2015, at 12:45am, Mark Kirkland knocked upon the door of 716 Jett Street NW in Atlanta. Notably, Kirkland was the boyfriend of Kendrick Ogletree who lived next door at 712 Jett Street NW. After Kirkland knocked at the door, 46-year-old Debra Morris, who rented a room inside the boarding house, answered. As Morris opened the door, Kirkland threw a Molotov cocktail inside. The device shattered upon the hallway floor, and the house erupted in flames. Morris shared a room with 36-year-old DeAngelo Barbary which was directly adjacent to where the Molotov cocktail shattered. Morris and Barbary were unable to escape the fire and died as a result. Four others who lived inside the boarding home were able to evacuate safely.
Eyewitnesses who were in the area moments before the fire identified Kirkland as the individual who threw the Molotov cocktail into the home. The eyewitnesses also recognized Kirkland as the boyfriend of Ogletree who lived at 712 Jett Street NW and sold heroin in the area formerly known as “The Bluff.” Ogletree and Kirkland regularly disputed with residents who lived at 716 Jett Street NW because some of the residents were related to individuals who sold crack cocaine in the area of the home. Ogletree believed they were cutting into his profits by infringing upon his heroin territory.
Following the fire, Atlanta Police Detective K. Kleinhenz subsequently identified several individuals who said Ogletree asked them to burn 716 Jett Street NW using a Molotov cocktail. Ogletree ultimately utilized his boyfriend in his plan to exact revenge upon the relatives of some of the residents of the home who he believed were infringing upon his drug-dealing territory. In the end, Morris and Barbary died as a result of the fire from the Molotov cocktail and neither one had anything to do with the drug-related disputes. Ogletree was previously convicted of Possession of Cocaine in 1994, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute in 2004, and Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute in 2015. Kirkland did not have a criminal history.
KIRKLAND and OGLETREE were convicted of MURDER, FELONY MURDER, ARSON IN THE 1ST DEGREE, CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT ARSON, and CRIMINAL SOLICITATION.
OGLETREE was sentenced to
LIFE WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE PLUS 13 YEARS.
KIRKLAND was sentenced to LIFE WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE.
Judge Rachel R. Krause, of the Superior Court of Fulton County, presided over the case. Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Mithcell led the prosecution of the case. He was assisted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Brett Pinion, Investigator Rasheed Hamilton, and Victim-Witness-Advocates Blake Cherry and Britney Winley of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Sgt. K. Kleinhenz of the Atlanta Police Department was the lead investigator in the case.