October 22, 2012
Manitoba woman pleads guilty in deadly fire
By DEAN PRITCHARD, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba woman who torched a Winnipeg rooming house killing five people pleaded guilty to five counts of manslaughter Monday.
Lulonda Flett, 41, who was originally charged with second-degree murder, also pleaded guilty to one count of arson endangering life.
Flett appeared hesitant as she entered her guilty pleas, prompting Justice Brenda Keyser to confirm whether she entered them voluntarily.
"You appreciate you are going to jail for a long period of time and you are entering those pleas anyway?" Keyser asked.
"Yes," Flett responded.
Flett remains in custody and will return to court March 21, 2013, for sentencing.
Court did not hear if the Crown and defence will jointly recommend a sentence.
There is no minimum sentence for manslaughter. The maximum is life in prison.
The Norway House, Man., woman is accused of intentionally torching the 2 1/2-storey wooden house at 2 a.m. July 16 by igniting the front porch with an accelerant, killing four men and a woman ranging in age from 22 to 56.
City police arrested Flett at a Main Street hotel's bar the day after the blaze.
She had been released from jail a few days earlier and at the time ordered to stay away from a female relative who, according to court records, was in the house during the fire and one of two people to escape.
A police spokesman said at the time that Flett was in an "ongoing dispute" with a woman connected to the home.
Eight people were in the house when the blaze broke out. At a court hearing last August, the Crown stayed four counts of attempted murder against Flett.
"It's certainly an anomaly now to have multiple deaths in rooming house fires," Reid Douglas, then deputy chief of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, said on the day of the blaze.
"Our fire-prevention enforcement people have been targeting rooming houses. And we hadn't had a rooming house fatality in the city for a number of years. This kind of flies in the face of what's common."