Courtesy Herald Mail: http://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/local/hagerstown-woman-gets-months-for-setting-fire/article_3c8f4b68-de8c-11e6-803b-8b17bd79d3d5.html
A Hagerstown woman originally charged with six counts of attempted murder after setting her home on fire in a suicide attempt last summer that endangered children and neighbors was sentenced to 18 months in jail Thursday after pleading guilty to lesser charges.
Cierra Nicole White, 31, pleaded guilty to malicious burning, reckless endangerment and arson threat for the July 8, 2016, fire she set at her Avalon Avenue home.
Circuit Judge Viki M. Pauler sentenced White to 15 years in prison with all but the 18 months suspended, which is to be served in the Washington County Detention Center.
The other charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
White, who has been in custody since the fire, will be on supervised probation for five years after her release.
When they responded to the call, firefighters found heavy smoke on the second floor of the home, Assistant State’s Attorney Edwin Llera said, reading from the statement of facts.
They forced open a bedroom door, finding a mattress on fire, and White hiding in the closet, he said.
Early on the morning of July 8, White poured gasoline on the mattress and set it on fire, Llera said.
Experiencing remorse, she then got six sleeping children outside before going back into the bedroom where she had set the fire, he said.
White had texted a girlfriend, telling her she intended to burn the house down, sending a photo of the gas can to the woman, Llera said.
Defense attorney David Harbin told Pauler that White had dealt with her alcoholism since being in jail, completing the Jail Substance Abuse Program, and was taking medications for her depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“She certainly wasn’t trying to harm anyone else” on the day of the fire, Harbin told the judge.
After setting the fire, White got the six children out of the house before they could be harmed, he said.
“It was a sense of ‘Oh my God, my kids,'” Harbin said.
After the sentencing, Harbin said he believed five of the six children were White’s.
Pauler said the fire “was not a towering inferno … but it could have been.”
“You could have harmed your children. … You could have harmed yourself,” the judge told White.
White also put her neighbors in the duplex at risk, she said.
“You’ve got a lot of time hanging over your head,” Pauler told White, referring to the more than 13-year suspended portion of her sentence. “I’m taking a chance on you.”