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Teen pleads guilty to conspiracy charge after southern Indiana fire that killed 3 siblings


NEW ALBANY, Indiana — An 18-year-old southern Indiana woman faces the possibility of 20 years in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday in connection with a house fire that killed three young siblings, but an aunt of the victims said such a sentence would not be enough time.

Shelby Makowsky of Clarksville entered the plea to a charge of conspiracy to commit arson in return for prosecutors reducing the charge from a more serious felony. She faces possible penalties of six to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines when she's sentenced May 29.

Three members of the Hughes family — 2-year-old Trinity, 4-year-old Tyrese Hughes and 6-year-old Tai'zah — died of smoke inhalation in the Jan. 4 fire, and a fourth sibling, 5-year-old Tat'yana, was hospitalized for several weeks with burns. Tat'yana was in the courtroom for Tuesday's hearing with an aunt, her grandmother and friends of the family.

The aunt, Crystal Hughes, said afterward she was disappointed with the plea deal because "it's not enough time. It's not fair."

Prosecutors have said Makowsky and two other teens were with 18-year-old Cody Cashion of New Albany when he allegedly fired a flare into a New Albany home to avenge an alleged theft by someone who resided there. The young siblings were overnight guests at the home.

Cashion has pleaded not guilty to three murder counts and an arson charge. Makowsky's plea deal requires her to testify against Cashion.

Makowsky made no statement outside the courtroom while being escorted back to jail, but her attorney, William A. Gray, said avoiding trial was the best move.

"Shelby took a really important step today in accepting responsibility in this really tragic case," Gray said.

Investigators have said others in the car with Cashion were aware he planned to fire a flare into the home and they later returned to the scene to recover the flare shell.

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