Mother of child who died in Mitchell fire now facing charges

Charges have been filed in connection to a house fire in Mitchell that left a 6-year-old child dead.

Ayla Barna, courtesy Davison County Sheriff's Office

Twenty-five-year-old Ayla Barna was arrested on child abuse charges on Wednesday, authorities say.

The charges stem from a fire that broke out at a home on April 23. Three children between the ages of 4 and 7 were home alone at the time. Neighbors were able to rescue two of them, but the third, a 6-year-old girl, died from exposure to smoke and fumes.

Court documents state Barna left her three children home alone during the late hours of April 22 into the early morning hours of April 23. While the children were unsupervised, they began playing with a cigarette lighter, eventually starting the fire which soon engulfed the residence.

On the Dakota News Now Facebook page, Barna appears to defend herself saying she ‘was 3 blocks away grabbing money from a friend’ and says she was not there to ‘hang out’ or ‘party’.

She also adds that she ‘moved (her kids) out here for a better life.’

Amy Carter with the Children’s Inn in Sioux Falls says there’s not really a definite age when a child is prepared to be home alone.

Carter said, “There’s really no ideal age to leave a child at home, it’s very vague and it’s very broad. Some states have laws related to that, South Dakota does not, so it’s really up to that family and what makes sense.”

Carter says parents need to consider things such as maturity, are they alone or with other children, and can they react correctly to certain circumstances.

"Kids have different comfort levels. You might think just because my child is 11 or 12-years-old that they’re okay and they want to be left at home, they might not want to be left home alone. So, I think you have to take that into consideration,” said Carter.

Barna faces three felony child abuse charges. If convicted, she could face up to 40 years in prison.