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Local mother sentenced after 2 young children die in apartment fire

WEST CHESTER, Butler County — A mother in West Chester has been sentenced after her two children were killed in an apartment fire in 2022, according to our media partner in Cincinnati, WCPO.

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Ashley Rhiles has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.

“I’m not concerned about whether she’s going to get these children back quite frankly, because I don’t think she shouldn’t have them,” Judge Noah Powers said.

In September, Rhiles pleaded guilty to the charges she faced, and a judge reduced her bond, allowing her to be released on her own recognizance, WCPO reported.

This release allowed Rhiles to participate in supervised visits with her surviving children ahead of her sentencing.

During her sentencing, Powers said Rhiles created a death trap for her children on the day of the fire.

“The court believes that, for whatever reason, she just decided to walk away from her kids that morning and leave them in that situation,” Powers said.

Rhiles pleaded guilty to her charges, which carried a maximum penalty of 36 months in prison and a $10,000 fine, WCPO reported.

She is also slated for mandatory post-release control.

On Sept. 17, 2022 fire crews responded to an apartment complex on reports of a fire.

Upon arrival, crews found smoke coming from the doors and windows of an apartment, WCPO reported.

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The West Chester Police Department released body camera footage from the incident as they were the first to respond.

Footage shows an officer asking if there is anyone inside the apartment but got no answer.

The officer kicked down the door and called out to see if anyone was inside, but there was no response, WCPO reported.

According to officials, four children were found inside the apartment alone.

They were rescued within eight minutes of crews arriving and then they were taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in critical condition.

4-year-old Bryson Brooks and 2-year-old Alaiya Encarnacion died from their injuries. A 6-year-old and 9-year-old survived.

Investigators said no adults were home at the time of the fire.

Rhiles claimed she left the house for less than 20 minutes.

“There was no intentional harm. There was no abuse from her. She’s never been ever alleged to have touched or injured any of her children. I can assert as her counsel that this has been an incredibly devastating situation for her,” Rhiles’ attorney Alex Deardorff said in court in March.

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