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Woman pleads guilty to manslaughter in deadly motel fire that killed Springfield couple

Newport motel fire photo by Dustin Capri courtesy NewsLincolnCounty.com -- Rebecca Sinclair mugshot via Lincoln County

NEWPORT, Ore. - A woman who dropped a lit cigarette on a Newport hotel bed and ignited a fire that claimed the lives of a Springfield couple and two people from Portland in 2016 will serve less than 4 years in prison.

The fire August 5, 2016, at the City Center Motel claimed the lives of Sandra Kay Shoemaker, 60, and Danny Keith Shoemaker, 64, of Springfield; and Tammi Sue Hepner, 51, and Allen Arthur Hepner, 63, of Portland.

Rebecca Sinclair, 39, entered a plea Tuesday in Lincoln County Circuit Court.

As part of a negotiated plea agreement, Sinclair pleaded guilty to 4 counts of Criminally Negligent Homicide, 1 count of Reckless Burning, and 4 counts of Recklessly Endangering of Another as part of a negotiated plea agreement.

The court sentenced Sinclair to serve 45 months in prison for the crimes.

Forensic experts spent spent months examining the evidence, Newport Police said.

After months of evaluation of forensic evidence, fire experts concluded that the fire that started in Ms. Sinclair's room was the result of dropping a lit cigarette on the bed.
That evening, over the course of time, the fire ignited and spread inside Ms. Sinclair's room.
It was determined that intoxicants were not a factor in Ms. Sinclair's delayed response to the fire.
When Ms. Sinclair opened her hotel room to seek assistance, the fire spread quickly to the other hotel rooms.
The fire destroyed the City Center Hotel, damaged vehicles parked in the parking lot, and caused other victims physical injury.
This fire killed the four occupants of the rooms directly above Ms. Sinclair's hotel room.

Prosecutors brought felony charges against Sinclair in April 2017. She was located in Washington state and extradited back to Oregon to face the charges.

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