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Women plead guilty in fatal Arvada fire

Unextinguished cigarette butts started the 2016 blaze in a host home for disabled

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Mary “Liz” Turner, 33, and Shana “Dee” Moore, 47, pleaded guilty July 17 in Jefferson County district court to their involvement in the 2016 fire that broke out in an Arvada host home for disabled adults and killed Moore's daughter and 4-year-old granddaughter, who were visiting overnight, and a disabled resident of the home.

Families of victims Cristina Covington, Marielle Covington and Arthur Reigel were not present in court, although the Deputy District AttorneytoldDistrict Court Judge Margie Enquist that they supported the plea agreement. The deputy DA told the court victim Tanya Bell had no living family.

A Jefferson County grand jury investigation that began in early December 2016 resulted in criminally negligent homicide charges against the two women. They also were charged with negligent child abuse resulting in death and criminal negligence resulting in serious bodily injury and death of an at-risk adult.

According to the indictment, on May 13, 2016, Turner and Moore, both host providers for the home, were smoking cigarettes on the front porch of the residence at 6152 Robb St. in Arvada. The home was owned by Parker Personal Care Homes, which employed Turner and Moore to care for two disabled clients living in the home. Moore's daughter and granddaughter were also visiting overnight that evening.

Investigators reported that the women extinguished their cigarettes and placed them in an empty cigarette box in a drawer in a bamboo table on the porch. The cigarette butts smoldered, then ignited, causing a fire on the front porch, the indictment said. The fire spread to the rest of the home.

The Arvada Fire Department and Arvada Police Department immediately responded and were able to rescue Reigel, a disabled resident of the home. But Bell, another at-risk adult living in the home,was pronounced dead on the scene. Cristina Covington and Marielle Covington, Moore's daughter and granddaughter were both transported to the hospital. Marielle was pronounced dead in the hospital shortly after arriving. Her mother died days later in the hospital.

At the Jefferson County Courthouse July 17, Turner pleaded guilty toall four counts. Moore pleaded guilty to two counts —criminal negligence resulting in death of an at-risk adult and criminal negligence resulting in serious bodily injury of an at-risk adult. The other two charges were dropped. Both women have been accepted into the Jefferson County Adult Felony Diversion Program and were granted a two-year deferred judgment and sentence.

Adult Diversion accepts first-time, non-violent felony offenders who express sincere remorse for their offense.

Defendants who are accepted must plead guilty to their charges and are given a two-year deferred sentence. If they complete the terms of their diversion contract successfully and have no new criminal offenses, their charges are dismissed at the end of the two-year period.

"This was a tragic case," said Pam Russell, communications director of the First Judicial District Attorney. "Based on the entirety of this investigation, the District Attorney determined that a deferred judgment and sentence was the most appropriate sentence."

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