Eustis woman convicted of arson receives no jail time

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FARMINGTON – A Eustis woman who had confessed to burning down the trailer she was living in received an entirely suspended sentence today in Superior Court.

Donna Reid, 45, of Eustis, set fire to the 1960’s trailer she was renting in April 2007. The trailer and an attached room were completely involved when the Eustis Fired Department arrived on the scene. Subsequent investigations by the state Fire Marshal’s Office found that the fire was started intentionally. Reid, who was at her mother’s home nearby while the building burned, admitted she started the fire.

According to the police affidavit, Reid stated that she had been drinking and “was angry about life.”

“She decided to pile some books against the wall and lit them on fire,” the report reads, “She said she watched the fire grow up the wall and exited the building and sat at a picnic table outside.”

Reid was released out on bail. Later that year, in November, her mother called to report that Reid had assaulted her while under the influence of alcohol. In February 2008, Reid pleaded guilty to the arson, the bail violation and the misdemeanor assault charge, in exchange for a sentence cap of two years.

Today, Reid’s attorney, Linda Sparks said that her client had made great strides in the past months. Reid, she said, is now attending Alcohol Anonymous meetings and getting counseling. She also helps take care of her parents, who have limited mobility, after getting the bail changed to allow her to be with her mother.

“It took us a while,” Sparks said, “but we’re on her way to getting her the treatment she needs.”

Reid said that she still couldn’t believe she burned her own residence down.

“I still don’t believe I did what I did,” she said. “It’s beyond me.”

Despite a warning from Assistant District Attorney James Andrews against giving the defendant no jail time, Justice Michaela Murphy found that the mitigating factors in the case made Reid a better candidate for probation than incarceration.

“She obviously has suffered from some serious problems which have gone untreated for some length of time,” Murphy said. The judge had been briefed on Reid’s condition and treatment through letters from a pair of psychiatrists.

Reid was given a six-year suspended sentence, and will begin six years of probation.

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