TRENTON – A Trenton man was indicted this week for allegedly setting a fire that killed four people, including his 9-month-old daughter, in Hamilton over the summer.

Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri announced Friday that a Mercer County grand jury returned a 15-count indictment charging Michael Sanders, 23, with first-degree murder and other crimes.

The fire started at around 3:40 a.m. on July 9 at a wood-frame duplex on Woodland Avenue. The fire spread quickly and caused the building’s roof to partially collapse.

Two people died at the scene: a 9-month-old girl, identified as Malani Sanders, and her 42-year-old grandmother, identified as Tiffany Abrams-Jones.

Three people were brought to the hospital with critical burn injuries. The baby’s grandfather, 50-year-old Prince Jones, died on July 11, and Zamair McRae, 18, Abrams-Jones' son, died on Aug. 3.

One witness told detectives that leading up to the fire, one of the residents of the duplex, Malani Sanders’ mother, received a text message from the baby’s father, Michael Sanders, telling her to get their baby out of the house.

Detectives say Sanders took a taxi shortly after 3 a.m. on July 9 from an area near his home in Trenton and was dropped off around a block away from Woodland Avenue. They say surveillance video from a Fast Trac gas station shows him buying a torch lighter and cigars around 10 minutes before the fire.

Additional video showed Sanders walking back toward his home on Bayard Street in Trenton, without the mask, gloves and sweatshirt he was wearing earlier. Detectives say they recovered the sweatshirt in a basement stairway a few doors down from Sanders’ residence.

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Sanders is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, four counts of first-degree felony murder, four counts of second-degree aggravated assault, two counts of second-degree aggravated arson and one count of second-degree causing or risking widespread injury or damage.

Sanders is being held in the Mercer County Correction Center pending trial.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at

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