A former Paynesville man pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for the death of his adult daughter who died in a mobile home fire in July 2019.
John Sean Newport, 48, pleaded not guilty to the charge in September but amended his plea Monday — the same day his 10-day jury trial was set to begin.
Newport pleaded guilty to unintentional murder in the second degree while committing felony arson. As part of a plea agreement, Newport also admitted to aggravating factors, which could allow for a sentence of 18 years — a departure of three months above sentencing guidelines, according to court administration.
According to the criminal complaint, Newport's daughter called 911 just after 6:50 p.m. July 23, 2019, and said Newport was dumping gasoline in the home and told her he was going to start it on fire. Newport's daughter, Jamey Marie Newport, was 22.
"(She) began screaming, yelling for help, and saying she can't get out. Stearns County dispatch then lost communication with her," the complaint states.
An officer who arrived before firefighters heard screaming from the rear of the mobile home; he kicked open the rear door and used a fire extinguisher but the home soon became fully engulfed.
The officer then saw Newport at the front of the house yelling at the person inside.
Jamey Newport was taken to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy lists the cause of death as inhalation of combustibles and the manner of death as homicide.
Investigators found a gas can inside the home and a lighter on the ground outside. Investigators also learned Newport had been in an argument with his daughter at the time of the fire and found a social media post where Newport "expressed his intent to burn down the mobile home," the complaint states.
Newport is to be sentenced July 2.
Jenny Berg • 612-673-7299