http://www.kwch.com/Global/story.asp?S=11183648A Haysville father has pleaded guilty to setting his step daughter on fire. Chris Newberry also pleaded guilty to one count of rape and five counts of arson. Prosecutors added the new count of rape today.
Newberry was charged with one count of Attempted Murder in the fire in March of 2009. His 10-year-old step-daughter was badly burned in that fire. She is now recovering. Her grandmother said the girl now wants to be an Olympic runner.
"She loves school, she loves riding her bike. She's a regular kid." Her gradmother continued, "Now, she has her ups and down days, and emotions get to her, of course. And she asks why me, what did I do wrong? And stuff that like that. And I reassure her, it wasn't you. Someone made a lot of bad choices, and it wasn't her fault."
At the time, investigators said the fire started in the girl's bedroom but never pinpointed the source. Months later, court documents say he sprayed her and her bed with lighter fluid as she slept, then lit her on fire in an attempt to kill her.
In court Wednesday, Chief Deputy District Attorney Marc Bennett said Newberry's four year old daughter watched the man douse her 10 year old half-sister with lighter fluid. "She described having been removed by the defendant," said Bennett, "and stepping back into the room, and watching him light her sister on fire."
Investigators say Newberry sexually assaulted the girl several times over the year, but the victim could only remember one in particular. Social workers investigated several times, but the victim's grandmother says the victim was too afraid to say anything at the time.
"She was scared to death because he threatened to hurt her or kill her," her grandmother told Eyewitness News Wednesday. "And he almost did, and he almost got away with it. But thank God, he didn't."
Newberry is set for sentencing late next month. He will be sentenced under Jessica's Law. It requires him to serve 25 years in prison before he's eligible for parole. He's agreed to spend the rest of his life on probation if he's ever released.
The girl's grandmother gives Newberry credit for admitting his guilt, and sparing the girl, and her half-sister, the pain of testifying in court. As she left the courthouse, she summarized what she was going to tell the 10 year old.
"I'm going to say he pled guilty to everything, you do not have to go through a trial," she said. "There will be sentencing in October. So that's it, he can never hurt you again."
Note: In the past, we have reported the name of the victim in this case. However, now that we have learned she is a victim of sexual assault, we have chosen to no longer report the name.
http://www.kansas.com/localnews/story/983639.htmlThe 10-year-old girl woke up when she heard the click, click, click of a lighter.
A prosecutor told the girl's story Wednesday morning, as her stepfather pleaded guilty to having sex with the girl, then setting her on fire last March.
Chris Newberry, 28, pleaded guilty to rape, attempted murder and multiple counts of aggravated arson.
The plea agreement filed in Sedgwick County District Court will send him to prison for life with no chance of parole for about 40 years.
"But under the plea agreement, he will have a chance of seeing a parole board, when he's a very old man," said Mark Rudy, Newberry's public defender.
About the only consolation prosecutor Marc Bennett gave Newberry was that no more sex abuse charges would be filed against him.
"This happened a multitude of times prior to the fire," Bennett told Judge Jeff Goering.
Then on March 14, Bennett said, the 10-year-old and her stepsister slept in bunk beds.
Newberry removed the 4-year-old girl, his own daughter, from the top bunk and carried her out of the room, Bennett said.
Click, click, click.
The older girl told authorities she remembered hearing the clicks of the cigarette lighter in her bed, Bennett told the judge.
Newberry had already doused her with lighter fluid.
The younger girl later reported walking back in the room to see her father set her stepsister ablaze, Bennett said.
Newberry's wife and his own three children fled the trailer, which was destroyed by fire. Newberry had later gone back into the house to pull his stepdaughter out.
The oldest girl suffered burns over more than 40 percent of her body. But she survived.
Family members said they had suspected the sexual abuse for some time.
Linda Johnson, the grandmother who is now caring for the girl, said she had just one question for Newberry: "Why?"
"Why couldn't you get help for your problem?" Johnson said afterward. "But at least you were able to own up to it."
Johnson expressed relief that neither the older girl nor her younger sister would have to testify at a trial. The other children are living with their mother.
Meanwhile, the 10-year-old continues to recover.
"She has lots of goals. She wants to run in the Olympics someday," Johnson said. "I can't run with her. But I said, 'well, it's been fun going through all the physical therapy with you.' "
The face of a monster: