Mother's murder trial debate over evidence

Mother accused of setting fire that killed 4-year-old, 3-year-old

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HURON TWP., Mich. - Trial began Tuesday for a Michigan mother who is charged with the deaths of her two children.

Sharon Hinojosa is accused of setting fire to her boyfriend's home in Huron Township on Oct. 9, 2009. She got out with her then 1-year-old son, but her 4-year-old son Anthony Hinojosa and 3-year-old daughter Alayna Hinojosa were killed.

Justin Whistler, the father of the boy who survived, testified that he had tried to break up with Hinojosa and asked her to leave his home.

"I just thought there was no way to try and work it out. I didn't know what else to do. It was just getting out of control," Whistler said.

On the morning of the fire, Whistler said he saw Hinojosa at the scene and she said to him, "Don't worry, your kid's not in there."

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Lora Weingarden said Hinojosa confided in several people on what she should do to get rid of Anthony and Alayna, who were fathered by a different man.

"She told them, 'I love my boyfriend Justin but he doesn't want my kids. He feels our relationship would be better if they weren't together with the kids. I love him and I don't know what to do,'" Weingarden said. "The truth was, that at about 3:15 in the morning, Sharon Hinojosa set fire to that trailer. She poured a flammable substance on the inside of the front door and then she put a flammable substance on the outside front porch. So, no one could go in and out of that door without being burned."

The defense is also arguing that Hinojosa's Constitutional rights were violated when she was interrogated without being read her Miranda rights. They don't want a five-hour long recording to be allowed in court.

"It's a reasonable person riding in a police car, down to a police station, sitting in the interrogation room, being questioned by police officers. She should have been Miranda-ized," defense attorney Bryan Sherer.

But for the prosecution, Huron Police Officer John Bettendorf said she was not read her Miranda rights because, at the immediate time following the fire, she was not considered a suspect.

"We felt she was a possible victim of a crime. So, we were just trying to find out what the situation was," he said.

The 31-year-old is charged with felony murder and arson. She faces mandatory life in prison if convicted as charged.

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