NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - One of three teenagers charged in the deaths of three southern Indiana children in a house fire accepted a plea deal on Tuesday. Shelby Makowsky, 18, changed her plea from not guilty to guilty on a charge of conspiracy to commit arson.
Makowsky admitted that she was with 18-year-old Cody Cashion, 19-year-old Kylie Jenks and a 17-year-old girl on January 4 when Cashion fired a flare gun into a New Albany house, sparking the fire that killed 2-year-old Trinity, 4-year-old Tyrese and 6-year-old Tai'zah Hughes. The children's 5-year-old sister Tatyana Hughes survived the fire but was left with serious burns.
Tatyana and her family were in court on Tuesday when Makowsky confessed that she and the other female suspects had been trying to sell stolen electronics to Johnathan "Udy" Stewart to raise bail money for Cashion, who was booked into the Floyd County Jail on December 21, 2013 on a theft charge. Makowsky said Stewart "ripped them off" by not paying them for the items, so on January 4, the group went back to the house on Ealy Street where Stewart lived to exact revenge.
Makowsky said Cashion fired the flare gun, which belonged to him, intending to scare Stewart, not to kill anyone. Makowsky said the group drove away, not knowing anyone died in the fire until the next day when they saw the story on the news. They decided to return to the scene of the fire to try to retrieve the flare gun shell, which Makowski told the court they did.
The victims' family said they don't buy Makowsky's claim that the teens weren't trying to hurt anyone.
Makowsky faces between six and 20 years in prison and a possible $10,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for May 29.
Cashion is charged with three counts of felony murder and arson resulting in serious bodily injury.
Jenks and the juvenile suspect also are charged with conspiracy to commit arson.
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