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Mom of kids killed in Sioux Falls fire gets 6 years for drugs

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — A Sioux Falls woman who used meth hours before her three children were killed in a house fire was sentenced Wednesday to six years in prison for drug possession.

Minnehaha County Judge Brad Zell sentenced Rhiannon White to the women's prison in Pierre and said she'll be eligible for parole in 13 months.

The Dec. 22 fire killed 6-year-old Alivia Coon, 12-year-old Savannah Coon and 16-year-old Michael Hensley.

"You're not guilty for causing the death of your kids, but you and your husband will feel great guilt for the rest of your life," Zell told White.

White pleaded guilty in August to possession of a controlled substance, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Other charges against her were dropped.

White cried during the hearing.

Minnehaha County Deputy State's Attorney Tom Hensley said in August that White was having an affair with her methamphetamine dealer and smoked the drug with him hours before the fire. When firefighters arrived, White was unsure how many children were inside the burning rental house.

Hensley said White made no attempt to rescue her children when she awoke to the sight of smoke rolling into her bedroom, although her husband made some effort before turning back because of heavy smoke.

White and her husband, who was not the father of the children, escaped through a second-story window.

White tested positive for meth, ecstasy and marijuana when she was taken to the emergency room after the fire, authorities said.