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Man gets 15 years for fatal house fire

BY ANDREA MOORE amoore@paducahsun.com

MURRAY - Royce D. Earnest, 44, was sentenced Monday in Calloway Circuit Court for his involvement in a house fire in Hazel last year that killed 32-year old Patricia Bohne.  

Judge Dennis Foust sentenced Earnest to 15 years for first-degree manufacturing methamphetamine.

Earnest was initially charged along with Hughron Payne, 40, with murder, third-degree arson and first-degree manufacturing meth. Calloway Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship agreed in May to amend the murder charge to second-degree manslaughter and dismissed the arson charge.  As a part of the plea agreement the manslaughter charge was merged with the meth charge, leaving only the latter.

During the sentencing Earnest thanked prosecutors for dismissing the murder and arson charges and told the court that Bohne was the one cooking meth the night of the fire and that he was taking responsibility for two labs that he manufactured two days previously.  

"Don't get me wrong, Patricia was the cause of her own death," Earnest said in court. "However, everyone involved needs to accept their role and take responsibility in this tragedy."

As part of the plea agreement Earnest agreed to testify against Payne, who faces trial in September.  

Earnest will be parole eligible after serving 20 percent of his sentence.

Contact Andrea Moore, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8684.

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