By Natalie Johnson / firstname.lastname@example.org
Attorneys for both the prosecution and defense remarked Wednesday on the odd nature of the crime Kathrin Turner pleaded guilty to last month — setting fires at the apartment complex where she worked to scare a resident into moving.
“It’s a bizarre set of facts why the fire was set in the first place,” said Deputy Prosecutor Will Halstead.
Turner, 44, who has no previous criminal history, was sentenced Wednesday to spend 21 months in prison roughly a month after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree arson.
“I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never been in trouble before. I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” an emotional Turner said during the hearing.
Halstead and Turner’s defense attorney, David Arcuri, both asked for the low end of the standard sentencing range — 21 months — based on Turner’s lack of criminal history. The sentence was imposed by Superior Court Judge Andrew Toynbee.
Shellie Hernandez, the resident who Turner was reportedly attempting to intimidate, spoke out for a longer sentence.
“I’m hurt, I’m angry and I’m thoroughly disgusted,” she said. “Either of those fires could have easily gotten out of control.”
Turner was accused of setting two fires, on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3, at the apartment complex she managed in the 1000 block of Scammon Creek Road in Centralia.
Neither fire caused serious damage to the building. Hernandez said she was out of the apartment during the first fire.
“When I was told our building was on fire, I was horrified but very thankful no one was hurt,” she said.
She and her caregiver were at home for the second fire. Hernandez told the court she has several medical issues including past heart attacks, a stroke, an aneurism and cancer. She used her emergency alert pendant to call 911 for the second fire.
Just before noon on Nov. 6, police again responded to the apartment complex after receiving a report that Turner was missing. She was found by residents, including Hernandez, in a pool of blood in an office with deep gashes to her neck and wrists. Turner told police she was attacked by an unknown man.
“We were all afraid there was a violent person on the loose nearby,” Hernandez said.
However, she said her “fear turned to anger,” when Turner admitted the wounds were self-inflicted as detectives began to unravel the case.
Turner eventually admitted that she was attempting to get Hernandez to move and had rented the unit to another person.
The intended renter arrived the day Turner was found unconscious to pick up her keys and had no idea it was occupied with a person who had no intent of moving, according to court documents. Hernandez told the court Wednesday she did not know Turner wanted her to move, and did not know of a legitimate reason to be evicted.
Halstead and Arcuri argued for the low end of the sentencing range, saying they don’t believe Turner meant to hurt anyone or even to burn the building down.
“There was no intent to harm anybody other than emotionally I think,” Arcuri said.
Toynbee imposed the sentence and ordered Turner have a mental-health evaluation.
“Twenty-one months is not an insignificant amount of time for someone to spend in prison … especially for someone who, based on the recommendation before me, has no experience in the criminal justice system,” Toynbee said.