FLINT (WJRT) (6/20/2018) - The mother of children killed in a 2016 Flint house fire and her boyfriend both were sentenced on Wednesday to 18 to 36 years in prison.
Erica Starkey and Rodney King both pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder under agreements with the Genesee County Prosecutor's Office.
Judge Geoffrey Neithercut ruled them both responsible in the June 10, 2016, deaths of three children in a Flint house fire.
Police say in the middle of the night, Starkey left the home. Her 4-year-old son, Kayden Hull, was locked in a bedroom while her daughter, 13-year-old Onyah Starkey, and her friend, 14-year-old Brianna Beaushaw, were upstairs.
Prosecutors say Starkey left to buy drugs for herself and King. King woke up a few hours later to find Starkey had not returned, so he set her couch on fire and left.
Eventually the fire spread to the whole house. All three of the children died, along with two pets.
Beaushaw's mother spoke to Starkey in court Wednesday, giving her a lesson on what it means to be a mom.
"As a parent you love, you protect your child. You are no longer selfish because there is a life, something precious that you must put first before yourself," Schuyler Kelly. "You did none of that. This was likely not the first of many times that you put your own selfish needs before everyone else."
Starkey and King gave statements to the court before they were sentenced. Starkey placed all the blame on King and King took full responsibility for the crime.