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Mother Of Kids Killed In Fire Appears In Court

January 23, 2013, 5:03 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Mother Of Kids Killed In Fire Appears In Court
Rhiannon White


The mother whose three children died in a Sioux Falls house fire made her first court appearance Wednesday on felony drug charges.     

The December 22, 2012 house fire killed six-year-old Alivia Coon; her 12-year-old sister, Savannah Coon; and their 16-year-old brother, Michael Hensley.

Rhiannon White and her husband, David, were the only ones to make it out of the house alive.  Wednesday, both of them walked into the courtroom as Rhiannon White faced drug charges.

As investigators search for the cause of the house fire that killed the three children, just a few blocks away, their mother made a brief court appearance to face two drug possession charges.  They are charges she didn't want to talk about after court.

In court, White was given a court-appointed attorney from the Minnehaha County Public Defender's Office and said she understood the crimes she's charged with.

Those charges are the result of a routine interview following the fire.  Police say White shared her medical records, which revealed she had meth and ecstasy in her system and said she could not account for the results.

When questioned, she admitted to doing meth several years ago.  But according to court documents, White's sister told investigators that she got text messages from White hours before the fire saying that she stopped at her 'drug dealer's' house.

During a second interview earlier this month, White admitted she did meth just days before the fire.

Even though no drugs were found in her possession, South Dakota law allows a person to be charged with drug possession if it is found in their system.  That's why those tests from the emergency room visit following the fire have now landed White in court.

After the interviews with White, police filed a court order to obtain her medical records that showed White not only had meth and ecstasy in her system, but she also tested positive for marijuana. She is not facing charges related to that drug.

White faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on both charges.

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