Judge reduces bond for Gary woman charged after fatal fire

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) - A judge reduced the bond for a Gary woman facing neglect charges after her two young children died in an apartment building fire, despite the objections of a prosecutor and the father of one of the children Monday.

Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Boswell decreased the bond for Kristen Gober, 33, from $200,000 to $125,000. Boswell also entered not guilty pleas for Gober, who's charged with three counts of neglect of a dependent and marijuana possession for allegedly leaving her children unattended before the March 25 fire.

Kailani Gober, 2, and Khristopher Gober, 4, died of smoke inhalation. Their 6-year-old brother, who escaped, told police he and his younger brother had been playing with the kitchen stove when a blanket caught fire.

The new bond reduction came at the request of Gober's public defender, T. Edward Page. He told Boswell his client would be unable to post the $12,500 in cash required to be released from jail, but the lower amount was the standard bail for a defendant facing the charges Gober does.

Gober was dressed in a green jail uniform as she stood with Page. Her dark hair was cut short. She sobbed and patted her eyes dry during the hearing.

Deputy Prosecutor Maureen Koonce said the Lake County Prosecutor's Office "vehemently" objected to the bond reduction and argued Gober was a flight risk and danger to the community. At the time of the fire, Gober was wanted by police on a warrant for failure to appear in court in a misdemeanor conversion case filed in Lake Station City Court in October.

Koonce also said Gober was essentially homeless as a result of the fire, which displaced 113 residents of the apartment complex.

Christopher Hardin, father of Khristopher, said outside the courthouse after the hearing that he preferred Gober would have been denied bond. He fought back tears as he spoke about how "he will never get to see (Kristopher) again."

"It's not just my child. It's my heart," Hardin told the Post-Tribune.

Page acknowledged the community was angry with Gober. He asked the public to remember Gober lost two children as a result of the fire.


Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com