Woman Suspected of Starting Deadly Reno Hotel Fire to Stand Trial for 12 Murders

A woman convicted of murder in 1987 was ordered Monday to stand trial on 12 counts of murder and one count of arson in the deadliest fire in the city's history.

Prosecutors say Valerie Moore, 47, set fire to a mattress Halloween night after arguing with another resident in a $150-dollar-a-week residential hotel on the edge of the downtown casino district.

Prosecutor David Clifton said he would decide next month whether to seek the death penalty.

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One of Moore's public defenders, Jennifer Lunt, said she expects her to plead not guilty, possibly next week.

All 12 victims at the historic Mizpah Hotel died of asphyxiation from smoke and soot, investigators said.

Because the 84-year-old brick building was unsafe to enter after the fire, the last victim wasn't pulled from the rubble until a week after the blaze. The body of Diana Pochini was found as a crane scooped large amounts of debris into a large bucket, police detective Roya Mason testified at Monday's preliminary hearing.

"When they turned the scoop upside down and into the bucket, Mrs. Pochini was there," she said.

Moore, a casino cook, was paroled last year after serving 17 years in prison for second-degree murder for killing an unemployed waitress.