Duo Pleads Guilty in House Fire Fatality


A Carbon County pair pleaded guilty to charges that stemmed from their roles in a house fire that killed a man in 2014.

Michael John Dees, 39, and Ashley Ann Platt, 22, were originally charged in Seventh District Court with murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy in connection with the death of Brian William Swink. On Monday, the charges were amended through a deal with Carbon County prosecutors. The duo pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony, and negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor.

The pair’s guilty plea comes a few weeks after James William Pendleton was sentenced to serve up to five years in prison for his role in Swink’s death after accepting a deal from prosecutors. Pendleton, 40, pleaded to reduced charges of attempted manslaughter and attempted kidnapping, both third-degree felonies.

According to police reports, Pendleton called public safety dispatch at approximately 11 a.m. on July 29, 2014 stating that he had beat up a man and that the man was locked in the basement of a Price home and the house was on fire.

When police and fire crews arrived on scene, Pendleton allegedly said that the man locked in the basement was armed with a gun. This delayed rescue crews from immediately fighting the blaze.

Once police personnel determined the scene was safe, firefighters entered the home and discovered a deceased body that was later identified as Swink. An autopsy explained Swink, 32, died from asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation.

Pendleton was taken into custody at the scene. Dees and Platt fled the scene before authorities arrived but were quickly taken into custody following the fire.

After further investigation, police were able to determine that Pendleton, Dees and Platt each played a role in Swink’s death, which ultimately resulted in murder charges.

Dees and Platt are scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 3.

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