ALTOONA, BLAIR COUNTY - Brandy Etchison's emotional testimony led off the prosuction's case against 62 year-old Aaron Dishong: The beginning of more than four hours of preliminary testimony that ended with District Judge Jeffrey Aucker deciding Dishong should face trial for allegedly starting the fire that killed 3 year-old Darrel Etchison Junior.
"Everything went as planned and we're satisfied with it. Everything went just as we expected," Blair County Assistant District Attorney Wade Kagarise says.
The state also presented a witness account from Dishong's neighbor, who claims the East Freedom resident admitted to starting the fire immediately after, on the morning of November 15th.
Detectives, however, were not able to secure their own confession.
"We have to find out what the real cause of this fire was. Statements aren't really clear and sometimes people brag about things they don't really do and we need to determine what was the cause of this fire," Defense Attorney Thomas Dickey says.
The defense plans to base their case on a lack of physical evidence, and their own investigation.
"We intend on hiring our own arson investigator. We've got an order already signed for our investigator to take a look at the scene and form his own opinion," Defense Attorney Stephen Passarello says.
With the charges moving forward, prosecutor's now have to decide whether or not to pursue the death penalty. A decision they'll make in the coming weeks.
"Obviously our office is an office that supports the death penalty. We've sought it in a lot of cases and obviously this case has several aggravating factors, but we'll have something to say about that when we're ready to make a formal decision," Kagarise says.
Along with Brandy Etchison taking the stand, the rest of the family was in attendance for the entirety of the preliminary hearing.
It was an emotional day as the family faced the man they feel is responsible for taking the life of their 3 year old son. Afterwards, they were pleased to hear the case was moving forward.
"We just want the District Attorney's office to continue to do their job," Darrel Etchison Sr. says.