SOUTHINGTON, Conn. (WTNH)– An 18-year-old man has been arrested after a fire ripped through a Southington apartment complex, killing a 19-year-old woman.
That man’s attorney says this is all a horrible tragedy and the suspect, Eric Morelli, is a long-time friend of the victim and never meant to hurt anyone.
Morelli posted bail but the warrant is sealed so police aren’t releasing many details of the case.
Friends and neighbors say it was all meant to be a prank but it ended up taking a life.
While Kristen Milano’s family and friends grieve, they’re also still thinking about the police investigation. They remember her as someone who just loved the simple things in life like soaking up the sun in her favorite chair.
“I’m never going to get to see her. She was just so beautiful and always cheerful,” said Kyle Cima-Yarnell.
Young, beautiful, Kristen’s life was in front of her. Now the focus shifts to who police say is responsible for taking it away, a fellow Southington teen from another part of town, 18-year-old Eric Morrelli.
“I have photos of us I was a baby holding him as a baby on my lap,” said Brian Goralnik, neighborhood friend.
He lives next door but the two grew up and grew apart.
“Through the years we separated and he took a bad path,” said Goralnik.
Linda Selander lives across the street when she heard about the arrest…
“I was shocked, semi shocked,” said Selander.
Selander says Morrelli had a rough childhood and last year he crashed his mother’s truck in her yard.
“All I wanted was for him to come over and apologize and say ‘hey I didn’t mean to do it and he didn’t. It was like don’t worry about it we’ll pay for it and it will be fixed,” said Selander.
But no one can fix Sunday’s tragedy on Darling Street. Friends say Morelli just wanted to pull a prank.
“He thought it was a good idea to throw a firework up there…trying to be funny and wake them up,” said Jay Goding, a neighbor.
Instead, friends say Milano was sleeping, a fire raged, and she died of smoke inhalation. Police caught up with Morelli Tuesday and charged him with manslaughter.
“The manslaughter charge is a reckless act that leads to the death of another person,” said Lieutenant Michael Baribault, Southington.
Now, neighbors say two families are suffering a loss.
“I feel sad I feel sad for his family,” said Selander.
“He does have good heart. He just doesn’t think you know before he acts,” said Goralnik.
Morreli’s attorney released the following statement:
“My client, Eric Morelli, and his family are extremely sorry over what has happened. This is particularly difficult as Eric was a long-time friend of Kristen. Eric never intended to harm anyone and he is very remorseful about this tragedy. He has been fully cooperative with law enforcement and will be responding to the charges in court.”
If you would like to donate to the Milano family to help pay for Kristen’s funeral costs, click here.