The stepfather of three children who died in a 1997 house fire in Weston is expected to avoid a murder trial by pleading guilty to lesser charges next week.

Court officials confirmed that Ricky Lee Brown is set to appear in Grant County Circuit Court on July 3rd.

Brown's wife, Barbara, mother of three children who died in the fire, pleaded guilty earlier this month to three counts of involuntary manslaughter. She was sentenced to 1 year in jail for each count, and released for time served. Brown has reportedly moved back to Weston, living with her mother. She had been in custody since December, 1997. See: WESTON MOTHER PLEA BARGINS 6/13/2001

House mate Janette Ables pleaded guilty January, 2001, to two counts of felony child neglect resulting in death. She was the mother of two of the children. She is serving a 3-to-15 year concurrent term. Ables recently made an appearance before the state Parole Board. The hearing was delayed pending completion of psychological reports.

Investigators say the Browns torched their home, leaving five children inside to die so the parents could collect some $85,000 in insurance money.

Seronica Castner, age 10; Kimberly A. Castner, age 9; Brandon J. Castner, age 8, Rayshell N. Ables, age 5; and Jimmy L. Ables, age 3, perished in the blaze, on Main Avenue, Weston, November 21, 1997. Five adults, including the three defendants, managed to exit the burning structure unharmed.

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