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Celeste Fronsman Murder: Katrina Culberson pleads guilty in gruesome arson death of Ohio woman

This undated photo provided by the Muskingum County Sheriff's Dept., shows 20-year-old Katrina Marie Culberson of Canton, Ohio, who has been charged with kidnapping and aggravated arson in the death of 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman. AP Photo/Muskingum County Sheriff's Dept.

Katrina Culberson, above, pleaded guilty in connection to the kidnapping and death of 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman
AP Photo/Muskingum County Sheriff's Dept.

(CBS) CINCINNATI - An Ohio woman pleaded guilty Wednesday  to escape the death penalty for the gruesome killing of 29-year-old Celeste Fronsman, who was found badly burned and wailing in agony on the side of a rural road.

Katrina Culberson, 20, pleaded guilty to one count each of aggravated murder, kidnapping and aggravated arson as part of a deal with prosecutors. Muskingum County Prosecutor Mike Haddox said his office offered the agreement to Culberson in exchange for her testimony against two others charged in the killing of  Fronsman.

"She understood all the terms and conditions," Haddox said. "She entered into it knowingly and willingly."

Prosecutors can cancel the agreement if Culberson becomes uncooperative or unwilling to testify against LaFonse Dixon and Monica Washington, Haddox said.

A driver found Fronsman on Aug. 26 on a road near Zanesville in eastern Ohio. She was raped, burned and had a strap around her neck. She died two days later at a Columbus hospital.

In a jailhouse interview with the Times Recorder in Zanesville this month, Culberson said she, Washington and Dixon "all had a part" in the killing.

"I want to be a human being again, not some monster," she said. "I want to ask God for forgiveness for everything I've ever done."

Both Dixon and Washington have pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder, kidnapping and aggravated arson. They face a potential death sentence if convicted.

Court records show that Fronsman was involved in prostitution and she was arrested more than 20 times since 2003, mostly for domestic violence, cocaine possession and prostitution.

Fronsman's family has said the young woman was a good person with a good heart who was devastated by the death of her 2-year-old daughter in 2005 and her mother in 2009.

Complete coverage of the Celeste Fronsman case on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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