Contact: Steve Holmes


ASHVILLE, Alabama – A judge this week ordered a St. Clair County landlord to pay $500,000 to a woman whose

11-year-old daughter died in a 2008 fire in which the rental mobile home did not have working smoke detectors.

In his ruling issued late Thursday afternoon, St. Clair County Circuit Judge Bill Weathington Jr., ordered William G.

Swindall to pay the money to Angela Roddy, whose daughter, Carrie Louise Crowder, died in the Jan. 18, 2008 fire

off Crawfords Cove Road near Ashville.

The judge wrote in his 4-page ruling that other fires had previously occurred in rental properties owned by Swindall,

including one in which a man died.

"Based on the findings of fact, the court concludes that defendant William Swindall was aware of his legal duty to

provide operational smoke detectors in the mobile home he leased to Angela Roddy; that he had knowledge that the

mobile home did not have operational smoke detectors while Ms. Roddy and her daughter were living there; that he

was aware that a pre-teenage child was living in that home; and that he had already had the experience of having a

tenant die in a fire, thus he knew first hand of the injury that would likely or probably result should a fire occur,"

according to the judge's ruling.

The judge went on to write that Swindall "knowingly and intentionally disregarded the potential risk and failed and

refused to install operational smoke detectors in the dwelling leased by Ms. Roddy."

Roddy's attorney, Stan Glasscox, said Friday that they were pleased and grateful to the judge and to the deputy

state fire marshal who testified. "No amount of money can bring this young lady back to her family," he said.

"I hope it (the verdict) sends a message to slum lords that they can't ignore the law, and if they do they will

eventually get caught and there are consequences, and in this case, the death of a child," Glasscox said.

Attorney Gary L. Weaver also represented Roddy in the case.

Efforts to reach Swindall or his attorney Friday were unsuccessful.

Weathington had held a bench trial on July 10 in which he heard testimony and looked at evidence submitted by both


Deputy State Fire Marshall Andy Yarbrough, according to the ruling, testified that he had "warned" Swindall of thisobligation to have working smoke detectors at least two times prior to Roddy leasing the mobile home in 2006.

Yarbrough testified that Roddy had a smoke detector in the kitchen and one on the hall but neither worked.

The judge cited Yarbrough's testimony:

"This is of some concern because I have warned the owner [Mr. Swindall]

before that he is required as a landlord to have working smoke detectors in his rental properties. (I worked another

fire death case on 2/2/2003 where William Nunn died. I could not verify smoke detectors in that fire. I verbally

warned Will Swindall at that time about his obligation to have wired in smoke detectors in his tenant rented

properties. I reminded him again in two fires on 9/18/2003 and 9/19/2003 of rental properties that burned with no

smoke detectors. Those two fires were not rented out at the time of those fires though)."

In the early morning of Jan. 18,2008 Roddy

took her boyfriend to meet his ride to work, Carrie at home with their

five dogs and a cell phone, according to the judge's order. "A fire of unknown cause and unknown specified origin

occurred in the dwelling while Ms. Roddy was gone. Burn and smoke patterns indicate that the fire started in the

kitchen/den area of the mobile home dwelling, on the opposite end of the dwelling from the bedroom occupied by

Carrie. The fire was one that produced a great deal of smoke.

"If smoke detectors had been working, Carrie would have had escape options and she knew how to get out of a fire,"

the judge wrote. "Both the Report of Autopsy and the Certificate of Death indicate that eleven-year-old Carrie's

cause of death was from asphyxia due to smoke inhalation. The position, condition and location of her remains

following the fire indicate she never awakened from her sleep before she died."