Witnesses testify in trial of mother charged in Andrews fire that killed 12-year-old son

Grand Strand Crime

ANDREWS, SC (WBTW) – Several witnesses testified Tuesday in the trial of a woman charged in an Andrews fire that killed her 12-year-old son.

Three witnesses testified Tuesday, including a Georgetown County Fire Department lieutenant, an Andrews volunteer firefighter, and a former Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office deputy. These witnesses said in court that Marissa Cohen’s reaction to her son’s death was abnormal, claiming she was not upset, shrugged her shoulders and was seen laughing with other people in a car shortly after being told her son was dead.

Cohen gave a voluntary statement to the sheriff’s office, claiming her son was supposed to return home from a party around 7:30 p.m., according to courtroom testimony. He reportedly didn’t show up and Cohen tried calling him on the phone to no avail. Cohen says she took her medications, went to bed and was awoken by a call saying her old trailer home was on fire. Upon arriving on scene, Cohen said she learned her son had died.

After the fire was put out, the boy’s body was found inside and the scene was deemed a crime scene, according to courtroom testimony. Firefighters said the trailer was halfway engulfed in flames and that the child was inside the home for more than 20 minutes, adding that trained fire professionals with no gear could only survive up to five minutes in the fire.

Cohen is charged with first-degree arson, criminal conspiracy and unlawful neglect of a child.

The 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office says Cohen faces a minimum of 30 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

The victim was identified as 12-year-old Dave Sycience Coombs.

In November 2018, Randy Collins was sentenced to 30 years for arson in the fire.

Randy Collins

The mobile home fire happened on March 20, 2014 at 10 James Drive in Andrews.

The blaze was reported by a neighbor shortly before 1:30 a.m. and when firefighters arrived, they found the home with fire encompassing one side. Neighbors had reported that the family had moved belongings out of the home in the days before the fire.

According to a press release, Coombs was walking home late at night from a friend’s birthday party, when it began to rain heavily. To escape the rain, he went to their former home on James Dr., instead of the apartment his mother was staying at, which was further away. 

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