PRICE — Two people have received suspended prison sentences after admitting they played a part in the death of a Carbon County man who died in a July 2014 house fire in Price.

Michael John Dees, 39, and Ashley Ann Platt, 22, were each sentenced Monday to serve up to five years in prison for obstruction of justice, a third-degree felony, and up to a year in jail for negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor.

Judge George Harmond suspended those sentences, giving Dees credit for the seven months he spent in jail while his case was pending and ordering Platt to serve 120 days in jail. Dees and Platt were both placed on probation for three years, and Dees was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.

As part of their guilty pleas, Dees and Platt admitted that they had a role in the July 29, 2014, death of Brian William Swink.

Swink, 32, had been at the home of James William Pendleton Jr. earlier that day, where Pendleton beat him with a baseball bat, according to Price police. Swink left after the assault, only to return to the house later in the day. Pendleton was gone, but Platt and Dees were there.

Attorneys for Platt and Dees said their clients tried to convince Swink to leave before Pendleton returned. When Swink refused, the pair locked him in the basement, according to some witnesses. Other witnesses testified at a preliminary hearing that Platt and Dees never locked the basement door and Swink was free to leave.

"It's real hard to sort out," Carbon County Attorney Gene Strate said at one point during the case. "We're talking about layers of things, all being filtered through the minds of drug addicts."

Investigators say there is no question Swink started a fire in the basement shortly after he was left alone. Pendleton was home by then and called 911, telling dispatchers Swink was locked in the basement and armed with a gun. Price police said Swink wasn't armed and the false report delayed firefighters' efforts to reach him.

An autopsy showed Swink died from asphyxiation due to smoke inhalation.

Pendleton, 40, also accepted a deal from prosecutors for his role in Swink's death. He was sentenced in June to serve up to five years in prison for attempted manslaughter and attempted kidnapping, both third-degree felonies.


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