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Patrick Thompson Sentenced to Life for Setting Fire that Killed Two Girls

GUTHRIE CENTER, Iowa -- Patrick Thompson has been sentenced to life in prison. Earlier this month, Thompson was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson, for intentionally setting a fire that killed his step-sister and her cousin.

This morning, victim impact statements were read by family members of 12 year-old Melanie Paige Exline and her cousin, 16 year-old Shakiah Cockerham; the two girls that were killed in the May 15, 2017 Guthrie Center house fire. The victim impact statements focused on what Patrick Thompson's actions took away.

"Your poison has spread through this family so quick, and it's time to put a stop to it," said Dalton Exline, Paige's brother. "You have taken very important people from me, who cannot be replaced; my little sisters. I am their older brother and was supposed to protect them from people like you."

17 year-old Cheyanne Exline wept as she told Thompson directly just how much pain he has caused in her and her family.

"My life changed forever on the day of May 15, 2017, all because of your actions," said Cheyanne. "Shakiah Cockerham wasn`t just my cousin. She was my sister, my best friend, and cousin, all in one. You took away everything that meant the most to me...Melanie Paige Exline, my beautiful, kind-hearted, free-spirited sister, had been victimized by family members and it makes me sick. But, more than that, my sister, who had been bullied in school and sexually abused, was getting a new start in life and you took that away from her."

When District Court Judge Brad McCall asked Thompson if he had anything to say, Thompson said "no."

But Judge McCall had some things he wanted to say to Thompson.

"You were convicted because the Attorney General`s Office did an excellent job in presenting the evidence to those 12 jurors, who decided beyond any reasonable doubt that you did exactly what the state accused you of doing," said McCall. "And, I share in that opinion wholeheartedly. I simply can't imagine what is going on in your head that would allow you to plan and carry out the horrific acts that you did."

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