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Omaha, NE — A 10-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother were charged with arson this week for starting a fire that left their mother’s boyfriend in critical condition, suffering burns to nearly half his body.

According to prosecutors, the alleged firebugs and their two siblings had been left in the care of an uncle Thursday evening, while mom and her boyfriend went out partying. The couple returned home shortly before the fire started and went to bed.

After watching an episode of Tom and Jerry at about 4:30 Friday morning, prosecutors say the dangerous duo poured a ring of gasoline around the bed where their mother and her boyfriend, 37-year-old Jermain Westbrook, were sleeping, then set it on fire.

Mom, Tanesha Beard, awoke immediately, but was unable to rouse her sleeping beau. Beard and the children managed to escape the home unharmed.

Westbrook, however, wasn’t so lucky. Firefighters rescued him from the second-story bedroom, but not before he had suffered smoke inhalation and third-degree burns to nearly half of his body.

At a juvenile court hearing later that same day, Beard apparently interrupted the proceeding and declared that she was the one that set the fire. She was escorted out of the courtroom and her children were ordered held at Youth Links –  a program for at-risk youths that provides an out-of-home setting with a lower security level than the Douglas County Youth Center.

Both children are now facing charges of first-degree arson and two counts each of first-degree assault. Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said authorities, including counselors and therapists, will be looking into whether there were “deeper” motives.

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