Kenya McGhee cries as she listens to a victim-impact statement Monday in the Lucas County Courthouse.
Although she did not put the match to the gasoline, a Maumee woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison Monday for her role in a deadly fire at a Springfield Township apartment complex.
Kenya McGhee, 39, of 5971 Forest Hills Ct. pleaded guilty before Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of aggravated arson for the March 25, 2012, blaze at Hidden Cedars Condominiums that killed her father, Robert McGhee, 61, and Olandia Keith Dixon, 58.
Standing beside her attorney, Alan Konop, McGhee turned to the family of Mr. Dixon and apologized, saying that what she had done was “foolish” and “horrible.”
“It was never intended to hurt anyone,” McGhee said. “I’m sorry for my actions. I’m deeply, deeply sorry.”
Frank Spryszak, an assistant Lucas County prosecutor, told the court that McGhee and her father conspired to set the fire at the Garden Road complex in order to make fraudulent claims on her renter’s insurance. He said the evidence would have shown that McGhee drove her father to a gas station where he put $3 worth of gasoline in a container — gas they believe he later poured on an apartment wall and ignited.
Mr. Spryszak said that after setting the fire, Mr. McGhee walked up to the building’s third floor where his daughter’s apartment was located.
“At that point, the state presumes based upon the evidence that Ms. McGhee deemed it too dangerous to try to leave through the apartment building so she jumped off the balcony of her apartment and broke her leg,” Mr. Spryszak said. “It’s the state’s belief that Mr. McGhee saw this and decided that was not the best option for him. He walked back into the apartment building — you can see him walking down the steps on the video — before the building is engulfed in smoke, and Mr. McGhee did not make it out alive.”
His daughter later filed an insurance claim for $76,267 in lost personal property. Her insurance carrier paid out the policy limit, $30,900, Mr. Spryszak said, as well as $13,744 for her living expenses after she was displaced by the fire.
Mr. Dixon — a man his daughter, Mary Haynes, described as a “fun-loving, humorous, great man that could make anyone laugh” — died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the fire.
“We weren’t able to say good-bye to him because that was taken away from us too,” a tearful Ms. Haynes told the court. “That is one of the hardest parts of him being gone is knowing we can’t tell him how we feel.”
As part of the plea agreement with McGhee, prosecutors said they would not oppose a future request for early release from prison — something she could do after serving half of her 15-year term.
Ms. Haynes said her family most definitely would oppose such a request “because it was hard enough for us to agree to 15 years.”
Judge Mandros assured family members that he had not agreed to grant early release for McGhee but would “keep an open mind” and take into consideration a psychological evaluation as well as her behavioral record in prison.
The judge also scheduled a May 15 restitution hearing to determine how much is owed to fire departments that responded to the blaze and law enforcement agencies who investigated.
“Arson is an especially cowardly crime and has potentially very horrific, unintended consequences,” Judge Mandros said. “People sneak around in the dark, create a situation that puts many people’s lives at risk … Law enforcement and our firefighters respond, and we know acutely of late the risk that those public servants are faced with when they have to engage with a fire especially one of this size.”
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.