Woman sentenced in mother's death

Posted: Monday, October 07, 2002

SOLDOTNA (AP) -- A Soldotna woman charged with killing her mother by setting their house on fire in 1999 has been convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in prison, with ten years suspended.

Rebecca Richel, 20, entered a plea of no contest to the manslaughter charge. That came in a Sept. 27 deal under which prosecutors dismissed a charge of first-degree arson against.

Richel was just 17 when the her mother, Dorothy Richel, 51, died in the arson fire.

District Attorney Dwayne McConnell said Friday he felt justice was served by the sentence.

Richel was sentenced to 15 years in prison with 10 years suspended, plus seven years probation. She will be ineligible for parole during her incarceration.

Because Richel has been in treatment for emotional problems since the incident, McConnell said one condition of parole is that she continue taking prescribed medication.

Richel was indicted June 25, 2001, on one count of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in the Sept. 10, 1999, fire.

According to official reports at the time, Richel, then 17, ran to a neighbor's house at 4:40 a.m., saying she heard a smoke detector sounding in a hallway. The neighbor called 911.

Firefighters arrived within 10 minutes, but could not get upstairs because fire already had heavily damaged the stairway.

Ladders were raised to upstairs windows and firefighters crawled in to find Dorothy Richel dead of smoke inhalation in an upstairs hallway.

Investigators determined the fire started at several locations on the entry level of the house.

Rebecca Richel, the only other person in the house at the time of the fire, was not hurt in the blaze.

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