IRONTON The man who started a deadly fire at a fireworks store in 1996 has died while in institutional care.

Todd Hall, 43, died March 8 at the Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare Center in Athens, according to sources in Lawrence County.

Hall had been hospitalized since he was found incompetent to stand trial in the deaths of nine people, including several children, at a Scottown fireworks store in July, 1996. Several others also were injured in the fire.

Hall, who was 24 at the time of the tragedy, reportedly tossed a lit cigarette into the fireworks store, setting off an explosion and fire.

The store was crowded with shoppers preparing for Fourth of July celebrations.

Nine people from Ohio and West Virginia were killed and 11 others were injured in the Scottown, Ohio, fireworks fire on July 3, 1996. The victims of the fire were Ryan Aldridge, 24; Misti Cron, 21; Shelbi Cron, 3; Candy Lee, 31; Matt Sansom, 14; Floyd Tolliver, 34; Ona Tolliver, 8; Jason Wallace, 9; and Kathlene Wilks, 71.

The fire filled the cramped cinder block store with smoke and started a stampede to escape. The victims were found within five feet of the front door.

Hall was charged with involuntary manslaughter but never went to trial.

Hall suffered a severe brain injury when he hit his head while skateboarding at the age of 15. He was in a coma for weeks and part of his brain was removed in an effort to keep him alive. The brain injury resulted in significant impairment to his mental and emotional functioning, according to reports. The impairments include distractibility, impulsiveness, memory impairment, mood disability and poor frustration tolerance.

Hall was said to have the mental capacity of a 10-year-old.  Hall made court appearances about every two years and was found incompetent to stand trial each time.

Hall behaved bizarrely in court appearances, giggling, calling out for his father and at one point singing the Star Spangled Banner.

Then-Sheriff Roy Smith said at the time he believed Hall was egged on by two other men to throw the cigarette. Two other men were taken into custody after the fire but were released and not charged. They were not identified by authorities.

The cause of Hall’s death has not identified by state officials.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2651.

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