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A Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to killing his daughter by setting their mobile home and her beloved kittens on fire, trapping her inside the burning home.
John Sean Newport, 48, pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree unintentional murder in the death of his 22-year-old daughter, Jamey Newport, the same day his trial had been slated to begin, according to a statement from the Stearns County Attorney obtained by Oxygen.com.
As part of the plea deal, Newport agreed to an aggravated sentence of 18 years behind bars for the grisly death, which occurred after Jamey, who had been paying the bills, threatened to move out of the house, according to court records obtained by the West Central Tribune.
The plea deal includes 36 months of additional time over the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines because of the aggravating sentencing factors in the case, prosecutors said.
The father and daughter got into an argument on the afternoon of July 23, 2019 after he asked her for a ride to the hardware store and she refused. During the argument, Jamey threatened to move out of the home they shared, and John responded by pouring gasoline in the home and on her four kittens before lighting them on fire in front of her.
Authorities said setting the kittens on fire would have likely inflicted “severe emotional psychological distress,” the paper reports.
Jamey had used the animals to help her combat depression and had called them her “babies” on Facebook just before the fatal blaze. She was trying to rescue them when she got trapped inside the home.
Moments before the fire, Jamey called 911 to report that her father had dumped gasoline in the home and was threatening to light it on fire, according to a statement of probable cause obtained by Oxygen.com. As the fire began to spread the dispatcher could hear her “screaming, yelling for help, and saying she can’t get out,” before the line went dead.
A Paynesville Police officer arrived at the scene a short time later and tried to use a fire extinguisher to knock down the flames, but the mobile home had become fully engulfed with Jamey screaming inside.
The officer found John had broken a window at the front of the home and was shouting into the home. He also tried to run into the burning home, but quickly emerged from the front door as the “very intense” heat and smoke forced him out, authorities said. The officer eventually restrained him for his own safety as the fire continued to tear through the mobile home.
Firefighters found Jayme in the home’s bathtub with the shower running, the paper reports.
The 22-year-old was rushed to a local hospital, where she was later pronounced dead, according to the probable cause statement. It was determined that she had died of smoke inhalation.
Deputy State Fire Marshal John Steinbach arrived at the scene and discovered a gas can inside the home near the front door. He also found a lighter on the ground outside the property.
Investigators found that shortly before the deadly blaze, John had written on Facebook that he planned to burn the home down.
John is scheduled to be sentenced on July 2, prosecutors said.
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