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Woman in Fire Deaths Pleads Guilty

January 25, 2001

WHEELING, W.Va. (AP) _ One of three parents accused of setting a house fire that killed their five children pleaded guilty Wednesday to two charges of neglect.

Prosecutors agreed to drop more serious charges, including murder, in exchange for Janette Ables’ plea. Her two children died in the blaze.

Ables agreed to testify against the homeowners, Barbara and Ricky Brown, whose three children died in the fire.

Prosecutors said Ables and the Browns wanted the children to die so they could spend their lives partying. They were accused of dousing the house with gasoline and setting it ablaze. The Browns hoped to collect insurance on their home and children, prosecutors said.

The Browns have pleaded innocent.

Ables could receive 3 to 15 years in prison for each of the two charges when she is sentenced March 1.

Defense attorneys said the 1997 fire was an accident caused by a child playing with matches. They say Ricky Brown tried to douse the flames with water and told his wife to get the children out, but they were lost in the confusion of the blaze.

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