A Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to unintentional second-degree murder in the death of his daughter in an arson fire he started. He has agreed to an aggravated sentence. A court ordered last year that the prosecution could argue that the crime had been committed with particular cruelty. He pleaded guilty to unintentionally causing his daughter’s death while committing a felony. In the plea agreement, he accepted an aggravated sentence of 18 years in prison. The aggravated sentence comes after a court ruling that the crime was committed with particular cruelty.
He had been living with his daughter in the mobile home, and she had been paying the bills. The afternoon of the fire, he allegedly asked his daughter to drive him to a hardware store, and when she refused, he began slamming things around the house and arguing with her.
He allegedly decided to set the home on fire after she said she was going to move out.
Newport allegedly poured gasoline in the home and on her beloved kittens in front of her. Friends told the police that his daughter was depressed, and she used the four kittens as comfort during her depression.
John Newport intentionally set the kittens on fire in front of her, knowing his daughter’s dependence on the pets for comfort. That would be expected to “inflict severe emotional psychological distress.”
Jamey Newport’s dependence on the kittens and her concern for their welfare compromised her ability to flee the fire, according to the court order.
In a recorded 911 call, she told the operator that her father had poured gasoline in the house and on her kittens. She said she had gasoline on herself. In the recording, she can be heard saying her father was starting the fire. She screamed that her kittens were on fire, and she had to save them. Police arrived at about the same time the phone line went dead. She was found in the home’s bathtub with the shower running, but efforts to revive her were unsuccessful. She died of smoke inhalation.