updated 10/1/2008 6:18:03 PM ET 2008-10-01T22:18:03

A man already in prison on unrelated charges was indicted Wednesday in a 2005 house fire that killed nine people, including eight children at a birthday sleepover.

Antun Lewis, 24, was charged with setting the house fire in May 2005 in a poor neighborhood in Cleveland. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Friends and relatives of the victims had expressed frustration with the slow investigation by federal, county and city authorities.

The indictment said Lewis committed the offense "after substantial planning and premeditation to cause the death of a person."

Authorities previously said gasoline was used to start the fire. It blackened the house's interior, popped out windows and created a flaming nighttime silhouette that led to nonstop calls to 911 from neighbors.

A heart-wrenching funeral, with mourners slumping in grief over white caskets, drew 4,000 people to a convention center.

The indictment gave no indication of motive or of Lewis' relationship to the victims.

Medeia Carter, 33, died in the fire along with four of her five children. She rented the federally-subsidized house.

Carter and the eight children were found on the second floor of the 2 1/2-story, 99-year-old home, about three miles from downtown. All died of smoke inhalation.

Lewis has been in state prison since June 2005 on unrelated drug and weapons charges.

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