Prosecutors have offered a plea deal to two women facing multiple felony charges for allegedly sparking a fire at an adult foster home that killed three people last May.
The deal could mean they both end up without a felony on their record.
The fire at the Robb House in Arvada started after the two employees charged with caring for disabled adults, Shana “Dee” Moore and Mary “Liz” Turner, failed to properly extinguish a cigarette.
Shana Moore was the mother of Cristina Covington, 24, and grandmother of Marielle Covington, 4, who were visiting the home and died in the fire. The third victim, Tanya Bell, 39, was intellectually and developmentally disabled and used a wheelchair. Bell called 911 to report the fire, but was unable to escape due to her disabilities.
Another man, Arthur Reigel, suffered serious injuries due to the fire. He also lived in the home under the care of Moore and Turner.
Monday morning, both defendants appeared in Jefferson County court. They were advised of their eligibility to enter the adult diversion program and were told that, as a condition of their bond, each would have to meet with a diversion counselor before entering their plea at their next hearing which was set for July 17.
If both women choose to enter the adult diversion plan, each would enter a guilty plea. The diversion program generally lasts two years, and is often available to first-time, non-violent offenders. If completed successfully, the charges would be dismissed. A spokesperson for the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office, Pam Russell, says there are approximately 750 adults in the program this year.
Still, community members are concerned that this case should also result in more strict safety regulations for adult care providers.
“My hope is that we take this tragic situation which, all around is horrible, and we want to see if we can move the system forward and look at statewide safety perimeters,” said Maureen Welch. Welch has a 10-year-old son with down syndrome and wants to ensure that the adult care system is safe as he may enter it one day.
“The community was completely distraught and people felt horrible for the situation,” Welch said. “There are many, many excellent host home providers who do an excellent job in keeping individuals safe, but we just want to make sure that the playing field is equal.”
Parker Personal Care Homes is responsible for the Robb House. Executive Director Scott Parker could not be reached for comment after Monday’s arraignment, but said in a 2016 statement: “Parker Personal Care Homes, Inc. and our entire staff send our deepest and sincerest condolences to the family and friends of those affected by the tragedy that occurred in one of our adult foster homes/host homes in Arvada this morning.
The safety and well-being of our residents is our top priority, and we are working diligently with fire personnel and other officials to thoroughly investigate this incident.”