PITTSBURGH - Two women whose house burned down while they were at a bar, killing five of their children, were sentenced yesterday to one to two years in jail.
Sobbing filled the courtroom as more than a half-dozen relatives and friends pleaded with the judge to show leniency in sentencing Shakita Mangham and Furaha Love, both 26.
After more than an hour of heart-wrenching testimony, Allegheny County Judge David Cashman said that the women's crime of leaving the children in the care of two 8-year-old boys should not go unpunished.
"You traded the lives of five children for a couple of beers," Cashman said. "These children were placed in harm's way because you decided it was time to party . . . .This deserves punishment."
Mangham and Love, who pleaded no contest in February to charges of involuntary manslaughter, were taken from the courtroom in handcuffs. Their jail terms will be followed by five years of probation.
Initially, the women told police the children had been left in the care of a baby sitter. An investigation revealed they had lied. Authorities concluded that the June fire was started by children playing with matches.
Three of Mangham's children, Daekia, 7, Cedano Holyfield, 4, and Dezekiah Holyfield, 3, were killed. Two of Love's children, Azequel Rankin, 5, and Andre Rankin, 6, also died. The 8-year-old boys, Javon Irwin and Huedon Chambliss, escaped unharmed.
Mangham could have been jailed for up to 31 years. Love could have been sentenced to between 10 and 20 years. *