GALESBURG, Ill. (WMBD) — Donald Denniston was found guilty of murder and aggravated arson in relation to the house fire that occurred on Feb. 14, 2021.
After a three-day trial, the jury deliberated for an hour and a half before reaching a unanimous guilty verdict on all counts. Denniston is to remain in custody until his October sentencing.
A fire was originally reported at 12:45 a.m. on Feb. 14 in the 200 block of Pine Street, where two people were present during the incident. A 50-year-old man was able to escape the home with burn injuries, but a 60-year-old woman, Katrina Hainline, died in the fire.
Jeremy S. Karlin, the Knox County State’s Attorney, said the prosecution presented surveillance footage showing a person carrying a gas can while walking down Pine Street. The person then approached the porch of a home and left shortly before a fire erupted on the porch.
After further investigation by the Galesburg Police Department, footage from the nearby Circle K gas station showed the same person from the surveillance footage purchasing the gas can and fuel. This was the evidence that ultimately led to the identification of Denniston and his arrest.
Karlin issued a statement following the guilty verdict:
“The successful outcome of this case can be attributed to the diligent efforts of the Galesburg Police and Fire Departments in canvassing the area for surveillance footage. Additionally, this verdict would not have been attainable without the cooperation of conscientious citizens who came forward with valuable information.”