Was a Dayton teen a monster or a hero?
At age 16, Clark was found guilty of setting the April 28, 1991, house fire that killed 12-year-old Amanda Simpson and injured her mother.
“Reasonable Doubt” hosts Chris Anderson and Fatima Silva interviewed Clark, his sisters Patti McNeill and Alicia Clark and others as part of the show.
Jestin Thomason, Scott Anspach and Chris Anspach-Morrow told Silva police coerced them into blaming Clark when they were impressionable children.
Now men, the three say they ran with Clark toward the fire after it had already started.
>> MORE HISTORIC CRIMES: 5 of Dayton's most shocking murders
During the trial, Thomason, then 13, and John "Scooter" Spicer, then 17, testified that Clark said "Let 'em burn," and poured gasoline on the Simpsons' kitchen floor at 831 Clover St., after he carried a microwave oven out of the house and gave it to three adults, according to a 1992 Dayton Daily News article written by Rob Modic.
Amanda Simpson died several days after the fire as a result of the injuries she received.
In his interview, Thomason said he pointed the finger at Clark, then 15, because that was the story fed to him.
“I wish I could have been the man I am today at 12 years old,” he said. “I do feel real bad about the decisions that were made back then.”
Chris Anspach-Morrow cried for Clark during the interview.
“I really feel bad that he is still in there for something he didn’t do,” he told Silva.
Two others with Clark the night of the fire have not changed their stories.
Clark has long denied setting the fire or breaking into the house.
According to the newspaper article, Clark told police he and the other children had been walking down Clover Street when they spotted the fire shortly before 1 a.m. He said he tried to rescue the Simpsons before firefighters arrived.
Now 42 and serving a life sentence in the Madison Correctional Institution for aggravated burglary, aggravated arson, attempted aggravated murder and aggravated murder, Clark told Anderson perceptions about him are wrong.
“I was always good-hearted,” he said. “I don’t like to hurt anybody or anything, you know? I mean, I feel like I did something good and I ended up being punished.”
The hosts meet with Clark’s sisters at the conclusion of the show and share their thoughts about his guilt or innocence.
>> Commentary: ‘Thoughts and prayers’ are not enough
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.