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Prosecutor tells jurors how Keene family of 4 died

Nearly 25 years after four members of a Keene family perished in a fire, lawyers for the man charged in their deaths said a witness can place David McLeod with her for 45 minutes before the fire started.

McLeod – arrested in 2010 and charged with four counts of second-degree murder – is the most prominent of the state’s cold case defendants to go on trial, and his case could prove to be the most challenging. Witness accounts then and now conflict sharply, McLeod’s lawyers told jurors during opening arguments yesterday.

Prosecutors told jurors that the 57-year-old McLeod threatened to burn down the two-story apartment house before the fire, bragged and laughed about it as the fire raged and admitted setting it afterward.

Killed in the fire were 49-year-old Carl Hina, his 26-year-old wife, Lori, and daughters Sara, 12, and Lillian, who was 4 months old. Fifteen other residents escaped the blaze.

“It wasn’t the flames of the fire that killed the murder victims here,” prosecutor Peter Hinckley told jurors. “They couldn’t escape the fire’s smoke and deadly gases. Their deaths were not quick. They were not painless.”

Hinckley said McLeod set the fire to get back at his former girlfriend, who still lived in the building at 88 High St., and to get even with other residents he felt had given him a hard time.

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