PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Edna Bennett, the Newberg woman accused of buying 12 gallons of gasoline so her friend could kill herself, took a plea deal Friday just days before her trial was to start.
The 76-year-old woman admitted she intentionally started the fire that killed her longtime friend Ana York on June 1, 2016. Bennett plead guilty to negligent homicide and 3 counts of 1st-degree arson. At her sentencing June 5, she could face as much as 25 years but is expected to get 18 months plus supervised probation.
Edna Bennett and Ana Frigine-York knew each other for about 18 years and lived together for about 8 years. The 2 women and York’s daughter were all living together in a mobile home in Newberg when an explosion and subsequent fireball erupted around 6:10 p.m. on June 1, 2016.
Neither Bennett nor the daughter were home at the time and firefighters found York’s body inside the trailer.
Investigators found a partially melted 2-gallon gas can in the back bedroom. As firefighters continued to battle the blaze, Bennett showed up and gave a police officer 2 letters “she said she wrote as Frigine-York dictated them to her,” court documents revealed.
One letter was addressed to police and “the other was labeled for the media.” Inside were Frigine-York’s ID, her wishes after her death and statements about her life and beliefs.
During a police interview, Bennett told detectives she purchased and filled a total of six, 2-gallon size gas cans during the week leading up to the fire and then brought them to the house. Bennett told investigators she filled the gas cans at different gas stations.
“Bennett said she knew Frigine-York’s plan was to pour the gasoline out inside of their home, on herself and light herself on fire,” according to court documents.
She was arrested and charged with 1st-degree arson, criminal conspiracy to commit 1st-degree arson, and 2nd-degree manslaughter.
Her trial on the charges had previously been delayed but was set to begin May 9, 2017. Her plea deal averts the trial and she will be sentenced for negligent homicide and arson.