No death penalty in Reno hotel fire

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RENO, Nev. (AP) – A woman accused of setting a hotel fire that killed 12 people pleaded guilty to all charges Friday in a deal that will allow her to avoid the death penalty.

Valerie Moore, 47, a casino cook, had been charged with 12 counts of murder and one count of arson for lighting a mattress after arguing with another resident at the $150-a-week Mizpah Hotel near the downtown casino district.

Her trial had been set for January 2008.

Moore’s public defenders have said she has a history of mental illness.

All 12 victims died of asphyxiation from smoke and soot. The Halloween night blaze injured 31 others.

During a preliminary hearing last month, one tenant testified that Moore appeared intoxicated and threatened him earlier that night.

The hotel, built in 1922 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, was equipped with smoke alarms but was not required to have sprinklers.

Under the plea agreement, Moore will be sentenced to life without parole on each of the 12 murder charges, and five to 15 years in prison on the arson charge. Sentencing was set for March 16.

Moore was paroled in 2005 after serving 17 years in prison for second-degree murder. Prosecutors said she killed a woman who had spurned Moore’s sexual advances and argued with her over money.

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