A man and woman told a judge Wednesday that they were too high on methamphetamines to rescue three toddlers who died in a Las Vegas mobile home fire.
Amy Hatzenpiller, 29, and Shane Gouailhardou, 25, each pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse, neglect or endangerment with substantial bodily harm in connection with the June 2012 blaze.
The charges carry a possible sentence of 6 to 60 years in prison, but prosecutors said they would argue that Hatzenpiller should receive more time because witnesses said only Gouailhardou tried to go back into the home to rescue the children.
David Gouailhardou, 2, Skylar Lafia, 2, and Aryana Lafia, 1, died June 15, 2012 at Van’s Trailer Oasis, 3610 Las Vegas Blvd. North, near Lamb Boulevard.
The cause of their deaths was smoke inhalation, and the manner of their deaths was ruled undetermined, according to the Clark County coroner’s office.
When Judge Carolyn Ellsworth asked Hatzenpiller what lead to her guilty plea, she broke down crying and continued to weep throughout the 20-minute hearing.
“I had ingested methemphetamine on the day of the fire,” she said. “I was unable to think clearly.”
The children were sleeping in their home when the fire started in the late morning, fire officials said.
Hatzenpiller, the mother of Skylar and Aryana, and Gouailhardou, David’s father, escaped through a window.
Prosecutor David Stanton said there was “concrete, physical evidence,” including injuries to his chest and hands, that Shane Gouailhardou tried to return to the home. Hatzepillar was within arms-reach of the children when she escaped the blaze, the prosecutor said.
There were only two exits to the trailer, Stanton said. The back door was blocked by a bookcase and the front door was engulfed in flames.
By the time firefighters had the blaze under control, the children were dead, and two mobile homes were destroyed.
Federal agents think the fire was caused by a smoldering cigarette but acknowledged there is a small probability it might have been caused by one or more of the children playing with a lighter.
Hatzenpiller had a lengthy history of contact with the Clark County Department of Family Services before the fire, records show.
In April 2012, child welfare workers investigated an abuse allegation involving her children. They ruled the case unsubstantiated because the alleged perpetrator did not care for or have custody of the children, according to a report.
Hatzenpiller faced four neglect allegations in 2005 and 2006 involving another child. Three were investigated and deemed unsubstantiated by child welfare workers. The fourth allegation came from out-of-state, and county investigators closed the case because they could not find the family.
In June 2011, child protective services received an abuse allegation involving David Gouailhardou but the information was not enough to start an investigation, and the case was closed as “information only,” according to the report.
Shane Gouailhardou had contact with the agency in 2006 as a 16-year-old victim of neglect. The allegation was substantiated, and he was made a ward of the county until his family completed its case plan in 2009.
Contact reporter David Ferrara at email@example.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker