Mom of Safyre Terry Gets 11 Years in Prison for Lying About Who Started Deadly House Fire
The mom of a severely burned girl whose tragic tale caught the attention of the Obamas and millions of others has been jailed for 11 years after she admitted she lied to authorities about who started the blaze.
Jennica Duell, the mother of Safyre Terry, was sentenced Monday in New York after she admitted to providing false testimony before a grand jury investigating the May 2013 fire that killed three of her children and their father.
During the investigation, Duell repeatedly claimed she was with her boyfriend when she said he set the Schenectady blaze.
However, in 2014, Duell testified that her prior testimony regarding what happened on May 1-2, 2013 was untrue. By then, the innocent boyfriend she accused of setting the fire had served 9 months in jail.
Authorities have yet to find a suspect in the heinous crime.
"While the damage the defendant did to the investigation cannot be understated, her sentencing today, though justly deserved, is only a small victory in light of the greater task at hand," U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian said in a statement. " ATF’s goal is, and always will be, the identification, prosecution and conviction of those responsible for the crimes that occurred on that terrible night.
"The memory of the victims who perished, and the will of Safyre to live, strengthen our resolve to ensure that justice is done."
Safyre, who is now 9, has undergone multiple surgeries and skin grafts since the fire, which left much of her body badly burned.
"Safyre will have to live the rest of her life with the injuries of that night; the defendant will only have to live with the repugnance and moral turpitude of her character," Hartunian wrote.
Senior U.S. District Judge Gary L. Sharpe also sentenced Duell to a three-year term of post-imprisonment supervised release and imposed a $300 special assessment.
Another person received a similar sentence for perjury related to the crime back in March. Edward A. Leon, 44, was ordered jailed for 10 years, for providing perjured testimony to the grand jury investigating the fire.
Safyre's father, David Terry, was set to marry Leon's ex-girlfriend before he died in the intentionally set fire. Police believe the engagement enraged Leon.
Layah Terry, 3, Michael Terry, 2, and Donavan Duell, 11 months old, also died in the fire.
Safyre made national headlines when she got millions of responses after telling her aunt, who is now her caretaker, that all she wanted for Christmas last year were greeting cards.
She even received a card from the White House with a photo of the Obamas and their dogs, Bo and Sunny.