Two women pleaded guilty Friday to their involvement in a Rankin house fire earlier this year that left an Iraq War veteran homeless and killed the woman's three pets.
Bria L. Robinson, 25, and Shirley Williams, 22, will be sentenced by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Philip A. Ignelzi on Jan. 9.
Williams, who is being held in the Allegheny County Jail, pleaded guilty to arson, burglary and reckless endangerment.
Ms. Robinson, who is on home electronic monitoring, pleaded guilty only to reckless endangerment.
According to the criminal complaint, the fire was reported about 1:15 p.m. March 8 at a home at 328 Fifth Ave. in Rankin.
The tenant of the house, Dorothia West, who served in the Army from 1979 to 2006, was attending school for occupational therapy Downtown at the time of the fire.
Although she was not injured, Ms. West told the judge her two dogs, Freeze and Pepper, and a cat, Midnight, and her kittens were killed.
She also lost all of her belongings, including her military records and commendations, family heirlooms and the family Bible.
"Since that day, my life has been very difficult," Ms. West said. "I became homeless. I didn't trust anybody anymore.
"My family couldn't help me get over that everything I worked for and strived for had been taken from me."
Because she felt unsafe in Pittsburgh, Ms. West relocated to be near several siblings in Salt Lake City in June.
She estimated the loss of her items in the home to be about $50,000. She did not have renter's insurance.
According to the criminal complaint, Williams had been in a dispute with Ms. West's daughter and had threatened the young woman the day before.
Police said Williams and Ms. Robinson bought lighter fluid at a convenience store and then broke into Ms. West's home that afternoon.
They stole several items, including jewelry, and according to the criminal complaint, poured lighter fluid on the carpet of a first-floor bedroom and then lit it.
Judge Ignelzi ordered a pre-sentence report for both defendants, but the plea agreement for Ms. Robinson, whose charge is only a misdemeanor, includes a sentence of probation. The judge is also expected to order the defendants to pay restitution.
Williams pleaded guilty to several felonies.
Ms. West asked the judge to sentence Williams to five years in prison.
"Shirley Williams took everything I worked hard for in the last 40 years," Ms. West said.
Paula Reed Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter @PaulaReedWard. First Published October 18, 2013 8:00 PM