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Mother of two children killed in fire released from jail ahead of sentencing

Ashley Rhiles.JPG
Posted at 12:51 PM, Sep 18, 2023

WEST CHESTER, Ohio — The mother of two children who were killed when their West Chester apartment caught fire last year has been released from jail ahead of her scheduled sentencing.

Ashley Rhiles pleaded guilty on Sept. 11 to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of endangering children. On Monday, a judge reduced her bond, allowing her to be released on her own recognizance ahead of her sentencing date, which is scheduled for Oct. 17.

In court, prosecutors said they requested Rhiles be able to see her living children, who survived the fire that day, under supervision ahead of her sentencing. Since her arrest at the end of 2022, she has been under a protection order prohibiting her from seeing her children.

Rhiles will be allowed to leave the Butler County jail, under the condition she wear a GPS monitoring device, the judge ruled Monday morning.

The charges Rhiles pleaded guilty to each carries a maximum penalty of 36 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. However, Rhiles is also slated for mandatory post-release control as well.

Crews responded to the Meadow Ridge apartment complex on Sep. 17, 2022 for reports of a fire. When they arrived they found smoke coming from the doors and windows of an apartment on Aster Park Drive.

Body camera footage released by West Chester police, the first to respond to the fire, shows an officer asking if there is anyone inside the apartment, but no one answers. He kicks down the door and calls again, once again hearing no response.

Four children were inside the apartment alone, officials said. The four were rescued within eight minutes of crews arriving and taken to Cincinnati Children's Hospital in critical condition. Bryson Brooks, 4, and Alaiya Encarnacion, 2, died from their injuries; A 6-year-old child and 9-month-old child survived.

The fire started in a bedroom. At the time of the fire, investigators said no adults were home.

Rhiles' defense attorney said what happened was "incredibly devastating." Rhiles claimed she left the house for less than 20 minutes.

"There was no intentional harm. There was no abuse from her," said her attorney, Alex Deardorff, in court in March. "She's never been ever alleged to have touched or injured any of her children. I can assert as her counsel that this has been an incredibly devastating situation for her."

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