Man backs out of plea deal in fatal fire

Ryan Moynagh (Photo Provided)

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — The man charged with starting a house fire near Lafayette that killed a 6-year-old girl last year declared his innocence in backing out of a proposed plea agreement with prosecutors.

Ryan Moynagh, 33, was in a Tippecanoe County court Monday, where he was expected to plead guilty to murder and arson charges for the Nov. 9 fire death of Katelyn Lane, the Journal & Courier reported.

But when the judge asked Moynagh how he pleaded to the charge of murder, he paused and exclaimed: “I can’t do this.”

“I didn’t do the crime,” he said. “I can’t. I can’t admit to doing something I didn’t do.”

Judge Randy Williams then ended the hearing and set Moynagh’s trial to start Oct. 14.

County Prosecutor Pat Harrington declined to comment after the court hearing.

The plea agreement reached between Moynagh’s attorneys and prosecutors called for him to face a prison sentence of between 65 years and 80 years.

He will face additional charges at trial, including an enhanced murder charge under which he could face a sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.

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. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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