Mom spared death for burning kids

September 23, 2008 2:42:12 PM PDT
A woman who set her three young daughters on fire, killing one of them, was sentenced to life in prison without parole in a plea deal that spared her the possibility of the death penalty. Alysha V. Green, 30, pleaded guilty Monday to capital murder and two counts of injury to a child.

Ariania, 3, suffered burns on 90 percent of her body and died a few days after the fire at their Haltom City house a year ago. Her older daughters, then 5 and 7, were seriously injured in the blaze that Green admitted setting because she was angry at her husband, the girls' father.

State District Judge George Gallagher sentenced her to life without parole for the capital murder charge and 40 years for each count of injury to a child.

Green, who was hospitalized for three weeks with burns from the fire, tearfully told Gallagher that she was "very sorry" for setting the blaze.

Defense attorney Joetta Keene said Green is on anti-psychotic medication but was not when she set her daughters on fire, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in Tuesday editions.

Green accepted the life sentence because she wanted to be alive if her surviving daughters ever wanted to ask her why she hurt them, Keene said.

"Facing what she'd done, she wanted death, but she wanted life for her kids," Keene said. "It was important for Alysha to plead guilty and not put her kids through a trial. It was important for her to take responsibility for her actions and to stay alive so she'd be available for her kids."

Gallagher advised Green to continue taking her medication in prison.

Prosecutor Alana Minton said she accepted the pleas because also wanted to spare the children a trial. The girls' relatives were satisfied with the pleas, Minton said.

Green coaxed her daughters into a closet one day last fall by saying they were playing a game, poured gasoline on them and threw a burning shirt on them, according to documents filed in the case. Green then summoned neighbors who pulled the screaming girls from the smoke-filled house, witnesses said.

The children's father, who was not home at the time, told authorities that she previously threatened to set him on fire. He said she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder but stopped taking her medication, and her behavior had worsened in the three weeks before the fire, according to documents.

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