CHICAGO (CBS) — A Gary woman charged with neglect after two of her children died in an apartment fire last month pleaded not guilty to felony charges on Monday.
A Lake County judge also reduced Kristen Gober’s bond from $200,000 to $125,000 at a hearing Monday morning.
The father of one of the two children who died called what happened in court “pitiful.”
Gary police said Gober, 33, left her three children home alone on March 24 while she spent the night drinking at a neighbor’s apartment.
The next morning, while Gober was still at her neighbor’s, her children were playing with the stove when her 4-year-old son put a blanket on top of it, and the blanket caught fire.
Gober allegedly told police she was doing laundry when the smoke alarm went off, and she tried to get back inside her apartment to rescue her children, but couldn’t reach them because of the flames, so she left.
Investigators did not believe her story, based on what witnesses told them, as well as evidence found at the scene.
Gober’s 6-year-old son was able to escape the fire, but her two other children died in the blaze: 2-year-old Kailani Gober and her 4-year-old brother, Kristopher Hardin Jr.
Kristopher’s father, Christopher Hardin, described his son as a happy kid who loved football and Spider-Man.
“My child didn’t even get to see his fifth birthday, and it hurts everyday,” he said.
Police found Gober at a nearby McDonald’s after the fire, and learned from the building’s maintenance man she had spent the night drinking at his apartment, and had not gone back home before the fire started.
Gober has been charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent causing death, one count of neglect of a dependent, and one count of possession of marijuana. She originally was ordered held without bail, but her bond later was set at $200,000. On Monday, a judge reduced her bail to $125,000.
Hardin said he was fighting for full custody of his son, and a hearing had been scheduled for later this month.
“This is the outcome, and it’s sickening, the outcome that it’s turning out to be. I’ll never get to see him again,” he said.
Gober was due back in court in May.