Man convicted in house fire that killed 2 girls

A man has been found guilty in the deaths of two girls in a Guthrie County house fire.

Court records say 27-year-old Patrick Thompson was convicted Monday in Albia of arson and first-degree murder. His sentence: life in prison without the possibility of parole.

He was charged after the May 15, 2017, Guthrie Center fire that killed his stepsister, 12-year-old Melanie “Paige” Exline, and her cousin, 16-year-old Shakiah Cockerham. The fire injured their uncle, William Long III, and grandmother, Shirley Exline.

The first trial last month ended in a mistrial . The judge took the action after someone started loudly discussing the case with prospective jurors while the judge and lawyers were outside the courtroom.

The trial had been moved out of Guthrie County because of pretrial publicity.