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April 22, 2014

Clarksville teen pleads guilty to arson in deaths of 3 young children

Shelby Makowsky, 18, witnessed a flare being fired into a New Albany home

NEW ALBANY — A teen pleaded guilty to arson Tuesday in a case that saw three young children die in a New Albany house fire started by a flare fired into the home.

Shelby Makowsky, 18, Clarksville, appeared at the plea hearing in a Floyd County court in shackles and a bright yellow, jail-issued jumpsuit with her court-appointed attorney Bill Gray.

Makowsky is one of four teens who got into a vehicle in the early morning hours of Jan. 4 and drove to the home along Ealy Street. She claims a flare was fired into the home of a man she says had robbed her of property that had been stolen and given to her.

The teens’ target was not in the home, however, but four children were. The children, Trinity Hughes, 2; Tyrese Hughes, 4; Taty’ana Hughes, 5; and Tai’zah Hughes, 6, slept together in a bed when the flare came through the window of the room.

The bodies of three of the children were later found by emergency responders.

Taty’ana Hughes escaped the room and was taken out of the home by a New Albany firefighter. The child suffered burn wounds and received treatment at a hospital in Indianapolis for nearly two months before her release.

The children didn’t live at the home, but were staying there with their mother, Theresa Hughes, who was reported to be outside the house when the fire started.

The plea agreement allowed Makowsky to have the charge of class A felony conspiracy to commit arson resulting in bodily injury modified to a class B felony.

During the hearing in Floyd County Circuit Court, Judge Terrence Cody set a sentencing hearing for May 29. Cody is expected to sentence Makowsky at that time from 6 to 20 years in the Indiana Department of Correction.

During the hearing’s procedural phase of establishing factual basis, Gray reconstructed the events that led up to the fatal incident by asking Makowsky a series of questions.

As Makowsky described who sat where in the vehicle on the drive to the home and that they had the shared intent to carry out the plan, loved ones of the Hughes children wept, and Makowsky, from under a closed-cropped buzz cut, began to loose control of her emotions.

“She has taken an important first step in taking responsibility for her actions,” Gray said after the hearing.

Also charged in the incident are Cody Cashion, 18, New Albany, who prosecutors claim fired the flare into the home; Kylie Jenks, 19, New Albany; and a 17-year-old girl.

Cashion has been charged with three counts murder and class A felony arson resulting in bodily injury. He is scheduled to be tried on the charges during a jury trial in July in Floyd County Superior Court No. 1.

Jenks has been charged in Floyd County Circuit Court with class A felony arson resulting in bodily injury. She is scheduled to be tried in August.

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