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No contest plea in Exposition Park fire


Two persons were killed

A woman who pleaded no contest to murder charges stemming from a fire at an Exposition Park boarding house that killed two people has been sentenced to 15 years to life in state prison.

Khala Swasey, now 28, pleaded no contest in June to two counts of second-degree murder for the Aug. 22, 2019, deaths of George Hills, 66, and his sister, Yolanda McGruder, 53.

“She had been locked out of the residence and she was frustrated that she wasn’t being allowed back into the residence,” Los Angeles Police Department Captain William Hayes said in August 2019.

Firefighters sent to the boarding house at about 12:45 a.m. that day found the building engulfed in flames and received reports that people were still inside the burning structure, according to Nicholas Prange of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

A search team found one person inside the home in grave condition, and as they were pulling the patient out, a second person was found in grave condition just inside the rear exit of the home, Prange said.

The two victims–who had worked out at the location–died later that day at a hospital.

A Los Angeles Fire Department engineer who was involved in an effort to pull them out suffered minor smoke inhalation and was taken to a hospital as a precaution, authorities said.

Swasey was arrested by Los Angeles police five days after the deadly blaze.

She has remained behind bars since then.

The murder charges against Swasey included the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder during the commission of an arson that could have carried a potential life prison sentence without the possibility of parole, but those allegations were dismissed as a result of her plea.

She was sentenced Aug. 16 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.