Aunt Charged with Neglect in Nieces' Fire Deaths

A 23-year-old Tulsa woman has been charged with child neglect following an apartment fire that claimed the lives of her two young nieces. Police say Miashah Moses was supposed to be watching her nieces Monday, but left them alone for "at least 8 to 10 minutes" while food was cooking on the stove. A cooking fire started while Miashah was away, and the girls were trapped inside the locked apartment. Noni Moses, 4, and Nylah Moses, 18 months, were found unresponsive by firefighters, and despite efforts to revive them, both girls were pronounced dead at a local hospital. Miashah Moses was arrested yesterday after a confrontation with the girls' mother, Keahmiee Moses. Police were called to the disturbance at a hospital where the girls' mother went for counseling. When they arrived, an investigation revealed that Miashah was supposed to be babysitting the girls at her apartment when the fire broke out. Miashah Moses told investigators that she was watching the girls and frying chicken on the stove when she stepped outside, locking the door behind her, to take the trash out. She says that she ran into a friend and talked for a bit before returning to find the apartment on fire. Investigators, however, say they have surveillance video showing that Miashah actually left the apartment to visit another apartment and was gone for about 10 minutes--leaving chicken frying on the stove and children locked in the apartment. When she returned, she says, her key did not work, and neighbors helped her kick down the door. However, the fire prevented them from reaching the girls, who were found in separate bedrooms. The girls' aunt is being held on $100,000 bond, and if convicted of child neglect, faces a maximum of life in prison. Miashah Moses has a number of prior convictions in the past four years, including drug possession, obstructing an officer, assault and battery, and resisting an officer. She also received a deferred sentence for second degree burglary. However, a Corporal with the Tulsa Police Department's Child Crisis Unit told reporters that her prior arrests were  no reason for the girls' mother to fear that their own aunt would place them in harm's way. Corporal Greg Smith says that while the girls' deaths were unintentional, they were completely avoidable. He told reporters, "You say common sense tells you, you don’t leave the kids alone, little kids alone with an ignition source where you could have a fire." The Oklahoma Children's Code defines neglect as follows in 10A O.S. §1-1-105: a. the failure or omission to provide any of the following:

  1. adequate nurturance and affection, food, clothing, shelter, sanitation, hygiene, or appropriate education,
  2. medical, dental, or behavioral health care,
  3. supervision or appropriate caretakers, or
  4. special care made necessary by the physical or mental condition of the child,
b. the failure or omission to protect a child from exposure to any of the following:
  1. the use, possession, sale, or manufacture of illegal drugs,
  2. illegal activities, or
  3. sexual acts or materials that are not age- appropriate, or
c. abandonment. Child neglect is criminalized and penalized under 21 O.S. §843.5. Both child neglect and enabling child neglect are punished equally as felonies, with a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $5,000 fine. Even the arresting officers admit that Miashah Moses did not intend to harm her nieces. However, a careless or ignorant move can lead to catastrophic results. Learn more about child abuse and child neglect laws on our website. If you are facing accusations of neglect, visit our website to find an attorney who can help.

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