Kiaira Pollard had been warned five times by Allegheny County Children, Youth and Families that she could not leave her two young sons home alone at night while she went to work as an exotic dancer.
And just three days before a fire ripped through her North Versailles apartment, a maintenance man inspecting her home warned her that she could not leave her smoke detector disconnected -- even if it did go off when she was cooking.
Still, the 28-year-old woman did not heed the warnings, and her two boys, KrisDon Williams-Pollard, 4, and KiDonn Pollard-Ford, 7, were killed when they became trapped inside their locked and burning apartment on June 30.
Ms. Pollard pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to two to four years in prison as part of a negotiated deal. Judge Donna Jo McDaniel ordered her to report to begin serving her sentence on April 26.
According to Assistant District Attorney Jennifer DiGiovanni, a fire in unit No. 302 of the Eastland Apartments was reported about 2:30 a.m. on June 30. As crews were working on the blaze, Ms. Pollard returned to the scene yelling, "My babies. Where's the baby sitter?"
However, the investigation showed that Ms. Pollard made up a story about having a baby sitter as a cover for leaving her children home unattended, the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Blaine Jones told the judge that his client had no one to help her care for the children and no food in her refrigerator, forcing her to go to work.
"Ms. Pollard was doing the best she could do," he said. "She's in a tremendous amount of pain -- pain I can't even articulate to this court."
KrisDon's father, Chris Williams of Penn Hills, took issue with Ms. Pollard's contention that she had no one to help her care for the boys.
"I took care of my kids," he said. "It's just not true. She had support. She could have picked up the phone and called."
Mr. Williams said he was not the father of KiDonn but that he had been in the boy's life since he was 5 months old. When he picked up KrisDon for the weekend, he took the older child, too.
"I miss them both, terribly," he said.
After the hearing, Ms. Pollard said she cries over her boys every day. "It's very difficult," she said. "I just miss my kids a lot."
Mr. Williams has not spoken to Ms. Pollard since after the funeral and said he turned his head so as not to see her in court Tuesday.
"I don't hate her," he said. "I just can't bear to look at her."
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2620.