Man charged with arson death of girl near Lafayette changes mind, pleads guilty to murder

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LAFAYETTE, Indiana — A man charged with starting a house fire near Lafayette that killed a 6-year-old girl decided to plead guilty a day after declaring his innocence in court.

Ryan Moynagh, 33, pleaded guilty in a Tippecanoe County court Tuesday to murder and arson charges for the Nov. 9 fire death of Katelyn Lane. Moynagh had been expected to enter that plea on Monday, but told the judge he didn't commit the crime.

Defense attorney Kevin O'Reilly told WLFI-TV that Moynagh had anxiety issues during Monday's court hearing, then later changed his mind and agreed to the original plea agreement.

The deal calls for Moynagh to receive a 65-year prison term for the murder conviction and an additional six years to 15 years on the arson charge, the Journal & Courier reported. If the case had gone to trial, Moynagh could've faced life in prison without parole.

Katelyn's mother, Mindy Kirby, said she planned to ask the judge to give Moynagh the maximum 80-year prison term during his sentencing hearing scheduled for Oct. 17.

Kirby said she's kept Katelyn's clothes in a drawer even after moving to a new home since her daughter's death.

"It doesn't seem to matter how much time he gets because she's never coming home," she told WLFI. "It just seems so final. I mean I realize he will be 80 before he gets out but my baby didn't get the chance to any firsts."

Authorities say the fire started about 1 a.m. and that Katelyn died at a hospital that day from third-degree burns and smoke inhalation.

Court documents say Moynagh admitted to setting papers on fire inside the house he shared with a man who was a friend of Katelyn's mother and was babysitting the girl. Investigators reported finding three origin points for the fire, which left the other man unconscious in the house.

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