Friday, September 7, 2007

Woman Accused Of Starting Fatal Fire Unfit To Stand Trial

From WBBM 780-
A Cook County judge on Thursday found a homeless woman unfit to stand trial for allegedly starting a fire inside a Wrigleyville apartment building that killed four people in March.Cook County Criminal Judge Charles P. Burns remanded Mary Smith to a mental facility ward in an attempt to restore her mental health so she may one day be able to stand trial, according to Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman Andy Conklin.Earlier this year, Smith pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of murder and nine counts of arson.Smith is accused of setting a fire in an interior stairwell at 3553 N. Fremont just before 7 a.m. on March 10. According to prosecutors, Smith said she lost her shoes that night and her feet were cold. A witness who described seeing Smith in the building vestibule prior to the blaze had given the 44-year-old woman a dollar bill. Smith lit the fire with a dollar bill, according to prosecutors, but it was not clear if it was the same bill. She fled the building as the fire moved rapidly up the stairs.The blaze killed single mother Jennifer Carlson, 24; her roommate Jason Bowers, 23; and two friends, Jerod Pilgreen, 21, of Poplar Grove; and Joseph Schultz of Belvidere. Carlson and Bowers rented a third-floor apartment in the building. A fifth person jumped from a third-floor window. Burns set a status hearing for Oct. 9, Conklin said. The Illinois Department of Human Services will determine where Smith will be placed.

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