Winnipeg woman sentenced to life for 5 fire deaths
Lulonda Flett has been sentenced to life in prison in connection to the torching of a Winnipeg rooming house that killed five people in July 2011.
Flett was handed five life sentences — one for each case of manslaughter — but they will be served concurrently and she will be eligible for parole in five years.
Those who died 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
Two years were knocked off her eligibility wait for time already served.
Flett pleaded guilty in October 2012 and a sentencing hearing took place earlier this year.
On Thursday, the judge said she considered all of Flett's cognitive challenges and difficulties in life. However, she also believed Flett intended to cause harm to two women in the fire, even if she didn't intend the full catastrophic consequences of her actions.
Flett left the courtroom in tears.
Evelyn Laforte’s 56-year-old son, Robert, died in the fire. She said she had mixed emotions about the verdict.
"I realize that nothing can bring my son back," said Laforte. "So I guess the justice system has done what they can."
She described Robert as a kind person who never had much in life.
She added she doesn’t think she’ll ever have closure.
"Any mother that loses a child knows the heartache," said Laforte.
Five people died in the blaze on Austin Street in the city's Point Douglas neighbourhood.
There were eight people in the home at the time, including Flett's sister-in-law, Lynette Harper, who escaped unharmed.
The week before the fire, court records show Flett had been ordered by the courts to stay away from Harper.
Flett had been handed a conditional sentence on assault charges after pleading guilty to participating with another woman in a 2009 attack on Harper.
The judge said she accepted Flett was only trying to scare two women inside, but she said the evidence showed Flett was capable of seeing the risk she was taking. As a result, the judge said, a life sentence was fair and just.
Fire officials have said the blaze likely started near the front entrance, possibly on the veranda, blocking an obvious escape route. The front of the structure was engulfed when firefighters arrived.
If Flett does get parole in five years, she will always be supervised in the community as part of a life sentence.