Judge reserves sentencing decision in fatal fire
Judge reserves decision in Lulonda Flett’s sentencing
A woman who pleaded guilty to five counts of manslaughter in a Point Douglas rooming house fire won’t hear her sentence for at least another month.
Lulonda Flett, 41, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and arson after setting a fatal rooming house fire on Austin Street in July 2011 that killed five people.
There were eight people in the home at the time the fire was set, including Flett’s sister-in-law, Lynette Harper.
People killed in the blaze
Norman Darius Anderson, age 22.
Maureen Claire Harper, age 54.
Kenneth Bradley Monkman, age 49.
Dean James Stranden, age 44.
Robert Curtis Laforte, age 56.
Court documents revealed Flett had previously been ordered by the courts to stay away from Harper and had been given a conditional sentence on assault charges relating to a 2009 assault on Harper.
Harper escaped along with two other people, but the remaining people died.
On Thursday, Flett’s sentencing hearing got underway in a Winnipeg courtroom.
The court heard victim impact statements from the family of one of the people killed in the blaze.
Robert Laforte was rushed to hospital in critical condition after the fire.
He suffered brain damage from smoke inhalation during the fire and died after being taken off of life support.
Laforte's sister Michelle Wazny told the hearing she spent hours in the hospital with her brother before he died.
"He had been through so much in his 56 years. I thought this would be another event he would talk about," she told the court.
"We stayed with him for hours watching him heat up as he tried so desperately to survive."
Laforte’s mother also provided a statement. Her granddaughter read it for the court, saying, "In the last minute of his life, he looked at me and then he passed."
Flett read her own a statement in court, tearfully apologizing to the victims’ families.
"I never meant to cause so much trouble," said Flett.
Flett could face a maximum penalty of life in prison, but her defence lawyers asked for a sentence of eight to 10 years.
Her defence attorney argued Flett had been drinking when she set the fire and has had a troubled past, with abusive relationships and parents who went through the residential school system.
"I'm hoping by doing time that everyone will forgive me. I have to learn to forgive myself," Flett said.
The defence also said Flett suffers from a mental disability and has been sober since she has been in police custody.
The Crown, however, argued Flett has anger-management issues and difficulty "controlling her emotions" and would require significant supervision as well as a significant jail sentence. The Crown argued Flett should be imprisoned for life.
The judge presiding over the sentence hearing reserved her decision until at least June, saying she needed time to reflect on the submissions made in court.