EATON — Chastity Hall, the 35-year-old Preble County mother whose children died in a tragic house fire after she left them home alone last February, will serve four years in prison for her negligence.
Preble County Common Pleas Judge David Abruzzo sentenced Hall last Wednesday, Oct. 28.
Hall was found guilty in September on two counts of third degree child endangerment, as well as two counts of first degree involuntary manslaughter.
The decision stemmed from Hall abandoning her children overnight on Feb. 21. Her children, Malea Bradburn, 10, and Malachi Bradburn, 9, died in the fire which destroyed Hall’s home while she out partying with friends, according to Preble County Prosecuting Attorney Martin Votel.
It was determined by the court, had Hall been home, she more than likely could have saved her children from the fire.
According to Abruzzo, the state recommended a 6-year sentence on each of the first degree felonies, to run concurrently — and any sentence on the third degree felonies to run concurrently as well. Hall faced up to 11 years on each of first degree felonies.
Hall’s attorney Steve Hobbs spoke before Abruzzo issued the sentence.
“This is a tragedy and there is nothing that is going to change that,” he said. He asked the court to consider community control sanctions and having a local jail time as opposed to the Ohio Department of Corrections.
“Nothing fixes what happened,” Hall said during her sentencing last week. “I’ll never be able to bring Malea and Malachi back. I grieve for them and I grieve for my family too.”
But Abruzzo wanted to send a message with the sentence given Hall.
“I have considered the goals of the system here in Ohio,” Abruzzo said in his decision. “The primary goal is to protect the public of future crime by the defendant and by others and to punish the defendant.
“Punishing the defendant is not really the primary goal in this case,” he said. “The defendant has probably punished herself and will continue to punish herself more than the court could ever punish her.”
Abruzzo continued: “The primary goal, in my opinion though, in this case and for the system — is to detour others. It seems to the court there is a tendency among some people — I can’t necessarily go out and prove this — to believe that if they leave home with their children in bed that the children are safe and it’s okay to go for maybe a half hour to run out and grab a pack of cigarettes, or in this case it’s okay to go out and party all night long. I find it a little difficult to believe. But I do believe that people think that way. I think it’s important to make people understand that’s not appropriate conduct.”
“This case points out that without the proper supervision anything could happen to child at any time,” Abruzzo said. “This is, in my judgment, one horrible tragedy.”
Hall had waived her right to a jury trial and Abruzzo heard the case in a bench trial on Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 31-Sept. 1.
Along with the concurrent sentence totaling four years incarceration, Abruzzo sentenced Hall to five years of mandatory post release control.
She has 30 days to file an appeal.
“In a case like this, my thought is, no sentence is going to bring those kids back,” Votel said last week. “The harm is done. But (what) we needed to accomplish with the sentence today (was) punishing her and sending a message to other parents that this type of behavior is not going to be tolerated.
“I hope this allows the family to move on, and the community to move on,” Votel added.
Reach Eddie at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH.