Published 9:08 am Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Akeevia Abner, left, and Takeevia Abner, right, are led from the Escambia County Courthouse Tuesday after a judge set their bond on murder charges at $300,000 each. The twin sisters are charged in the deaths of their three children, toddlers age 3 and under who perished in a fire at their house when the children were home alone.|Photo by Kerry Whipple Bean

A week after their three children died in a house fire after the toddlers were left home alone, twin sisters appeared Tuesday before a judge, each charged with three counts of murder.

Akeevia Lajoseia Abner and Tekeevia Lajoseialan Abner, both 18, often buried their faces in their hands as they sat in the courtroom. Tekeevia kept her head down through much of the proceedings, her hair hiding her face.

District Judge Dave Jordan read from a complaint against the women that noted the mothers left the three children alone and showed “extreme indifference to human life and did pose grave risk of death.”

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A press release from the district attorney’s office on Monday stated the women were charged with “reckless” murder,

The children were trapped in the house as it caught fire. A fire marshal’s investigation has determined that the blaze likely started because a stove was left unattended.

District Attorney Steve Billy sought a bond of $100,000 on each count of murder. Customary bond for a murder charge is $75,000, but Billy said the case warrants a higher bond.

“We ask that the court set a $100,000 bond on each count without consolidation,” Billy said. “We believe (each woman) to be a flight risk and a threat to others. She had no regard to the safety of her own children and we believe she would show now regard to the safety of others.”

The fire killed 3-year-old Aniyia Abner, 3-year-old Takia Abner and 22-month-old Michael Coleman.

Department of Human Resources officials this week could not confirm that they had been working with the family, but neighbors have reportedly said they saw the children left unattended in the past.

A funeral for the three children has been set for 11 a.m. Thursday at New Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Atmore.

At the bond hearing, Tekeevia, the first to appear before the judge, answered District Judge Dave Jordan’s questions in a quiet voice.

Neither sister is represented by an attorney yet, and neither was required to speak nor enter a plea at the bond hearing.

Firefighters arrived at the scene of the Wednesday, Nov. 2, fire just before 8 p.m. The house was fully engulfed, and the children were pulled unconscious from the house shortly after they arrived.

All three were declared dead at Atmore Community Hospital.