Mom accused of starting fire that injured daughter found not guilty on all counts

Mom accused of starting fire that injured daughter found not guilty on all counts

EAST LIBERTY, Pa. — A jury has found a mother accused of starting a fire that burned her young daughter not guilty on all counts.

Prosecutors said Ukayla Tarver was drunk and asleep when a pot of french fries cooking on the stove caught fire in July 2012.

Tarver made it out of the Rippey Street house, but 3-year-old Ta-Nyiah Benjamin was trapped inside.

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Benjamin was rescued but suffered burns. She has since recovered.

Tarver's defense attorney, Randall McKinney, argued the fire was an accident.

"I'm pleased with the result. I am, however, disappointed that these charges were ever filed in the first place," McKinney said.

Channel 11's Alan Jennings reported the jury deliberated less than an hour before deciding its verdict.

"There was absolutely no proof that Miss Tarver's actions were reckless, and the jury saw that," McKinney said.

Tarver declined to comment after the verdict had been read.

"I would think the best way to describe her mood is relieved. She's happy that she can finally put this past her. It's been hanging over her head for about a year and a half," McKinney said.

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