New Albany teen sentenced to 20 years in prison after deadly fir - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New Albany teen sentenced to 20 years in prison after deadly fire

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NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- One of the teens charged in a deadly fire that killed three small children has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The courtroom was packed Thursday with both family of the defendant, Shelby Makowsky, and family of the young victims who lost their lives in the fire.

Makowsky pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson after admitting to being in the car with Cody Cashion when police say he fired a flare gun into a house on Ealy Street on Jan. 4.

The fire killed 6-year-old Tai'zah, 4-year-old Tyrese, and 2-year-old Trinity. Their sister, 5-year-old Taty'ana, was the only survivor.

Shelby Makowsky took the stand Thursday and expressed remorse for her actions.

"It's the worst mistake I've made my entire life, and I would do anything to take it back," she said.

For the first time, Makowsky apologized to the family of the victims saying, "I can't imagine what it's like going through that."

The apology was well received by the family of the victims.

"I saw pain in her eyes. I saw remorse for the first time since this all happened," said grandmother Marie Clark who was relieved to get an apology after more than four months. "This may sound crazy, but I felt like I wanted to hug her."

Makowsky admitted in court that it wasn't the first time she and her friends had fired a flare gun, but this was the first time the flare had an intended destination.

The lead detective in the case called Makowsky and her friends "a gang" and says all their correspondence prior to incarceration was regarding their criminal activity. He also testified about Makowsky's extensive criminal history, saying she was already on probation for other charges the night of the fire.

Licensed psychologist Heather Henderson-Galligan testified, saying Makowsky appears to suffer from bipolar disorder, depression and substance abuse. Her findings were discovered during a one hour interview with Makowsky.

Henderson-Galligan testified that Makowsky would benefit from treatment, and said she needs a full psychological assessment.

During Floyd County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Steve Owen's cross-examination, he pointed out that Henderson-Galligan did not look into Makowsky's record to see if she had received treatment in the past, and that her findings were based solely on a one hour interview.

"Anybody could come to you and say 'yeah, I'm bipolar,' or 'I'm depressed,'" Owen said in court Thursday. "Especially if they are facing 20 years in prison."

Later, Owen said he wasn't challenging the validity of Makowsky's psychological struggles, rather, pointing out that it wasn't an excuse for the death of three children.

"This is not a case about a psychiatrist or psychologist or the mental well being of the defendant, it's about the facts and circumstances of this case," said Owen.

Makowsky was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation, and enroll in a substance abuse program while incarcerated. The judge said she could be released after ten years, if she exhibits good behavior.

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