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Child's Fireworks Death Leaves Lesson Of Vulnerability

The death of a child from fireworks has slipped into recent history, yet it lives on among some who were there in Kansas City, Kansas. There is a lasting impact that spread from a small house in the central city, a modest neighborhood around 49 South 14th Street.

Dawn DeMotte and six of her children got out of the burning house but not Jewel, Jewel Morse. A little girl who who liked to draw and write poems about flowers. You could tell, from what a reporter found left of her school papers on a charred floor next day.

 Eight year old Jewel died July 2nd, 2006. Recklessly aimed fireworks, said investigators. Paint thinner in the basement went up in a roar.

 Deputy Fire Chief Craig Duke can tell you the day and hour of the alarm. Firefighters tend to remember the one's they couldn't save.

This time of year Duke will tell anyone who wants to listen, "usually it's the children between the ages of 5 and 9 who are injured, mostly during the fireworks season.  And that's probably because of their coordination and everything."  Duke said, "their reaction isn't as acute as the adult."

Jewel Morse was found in a hallway, lost and burned in heat and smoke. She died within hours.

 A neighbor was charged with murder and arson. Karl Bowlin was sentenced to 5 years for involuntary manslaughter.

 A review today of a Kansas Court of Appeals transcript tells the rest.

 Bowlin's trial lawyer  never protested police questioning after Bowlin asked for a lawyer and didn't get one. Neither did the attorney protest what the appellate court found to be prejudicial comments by a preliminary-hearing judge. Nor were any defense witnesses presented at the bench trial.

Bowlin, 41 years old at the time, was set free after serving most of his time, and never retried.   

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