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Details emerge in fatal fire

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Via the Wyoming News Exchange

RIVERTON (WNE) — The Riverton man facing manslaughter charges in the death of his girlfriend in a house fire called suspicious by law enforcement admitted the couple were fighting when he spilled gas near her bedroom and lit a cigarette which ignited the blaze, according to court documents.

Vurnon Murice Doney, 55, faces up to 20 years in prison for the involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of Eve Newton, 48.

Riverton Police were called to the 1200 block of East Main Street on April 26 at about 2:20 a.m. on a report of a house fire with a woman possibly trapped inside. Doney reportedly made that call.

Volunteer firefighters responded and found Newton deceased, half lying on her bed.

Doney was taken to the hospital for the treatment of minor burns, where he reportedly told Riverton Detective Bhagya Nethicumera that he and Newton had been arguing inside the home when he decided to spend the night in his van and drive his motorcycle to work the next morning.

According to court documents, Doney said he needed to mix gas and oil for the motorcycle and went to retrieve a gas can inside a bathroom at the residence. He reportedly told investigators that he and Newton again argued, and he spilled gas in the living room, two bedrooms and the bathroom.

Doney said he later lit a cigarette just outside Newton’s bedroom, which caused his clothing and the residence to start on fire. He said he tried to put out the blaze with water and that Newton was unable to escape the bedroom.

Fire investigators said the fire likely started inside Newton’s bedroom at the foot of her bed. An autopsy noted soot was found inside Newton’s lungs, meaning she was alive at the time of the fire.

Doney was arrested Thursday.

This story was published on May 15, 2024.

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