D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - She's accused of 1st degree arson in the fire that destroyed the 20 units at Arbor View apartments in D'Iberville back in March. No lives were lost, but tenants lost everything and had to relocate. You've heard their stories of struggle, now 26-year-old Krystal Danielle Gonzalez is telling her side for the first time to WLOX News.
Gonzalez remembers the day of this massive fire well.
It was a day that changed her life and the lives of more than 40 others when everything they owned was wiped out by flames.
"I was out with friends on Mardi Gras. We had candles lit through our apartment as always. I was getting ready to cook. I was in and out of my apartment through the night and I came back and it was in flames,"said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez says she left a candle burning that day and when she returned to her apartment her pets were lost in the flames.
"I was in shock when it first happened. I was in shock for a good couple days after. You know I had my children in their Napoleon and Josey. You know everything I worked hard for as well. Everything was gone in the matter of minutes," said Gonzalez.
A few days later, police arrested Gonzalez. They say she intentionally caused that fire. But Gonzalez says that wasn't the case.
"It was an accident. I was gone all day. We had candles lit in our apartment quite often," said Gonzalez.
Her attorney says Gonzalez was working four jobs to put herself through cosmetology school at the time of the fire while sending money to help her financially strapped family in California. He says his client is a good person and too driven to throw away her life to crime.
"I would ask everyone to continue to at least reserve judgement until all the truth comes out. And that's what trials are for is to bring forth the truth and to shed light on exactly what happened," said Crosby.
The apartment building is built back and will soon be inhabited by new residents. And just as the building has changed Gonzalez says her out look on everything has changed also.
"As far as just how my lifestyle was, I just thought I was just going out and being young and not thinking. Family, I didn't realize how blessed I was something that happens to me. My family is torn, as well," she added.
According to police, an affidavit filed in the case against Gonzalez, says investigators learned she contacted her boyfriend just before the March 4 fire to tell him she was destroying his belongings. Within the next week, Gonzalez's case will go before a grand jury. They'll decide whether or not to indict her.