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State v. Scott

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga

April 26, 2018

STATE OF OHIO PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE
v.
ELIZABETH A. SCOTT DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

          Criminal Appeal from the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case No. CR-16-609069-A

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Patrick S. Lavelle

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Michael C. O'Malley Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Andrew F. Rogalski Assistant County Prosecutor

          BEFORE: Kilbane, J., E.A. Gallagher, A.J., and McCormack, J.

          JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION

          MARY EILEEN KILBANE, J.

         {¶1} Defendant-appellant, Elizabeth A. Scott ("Scott"), appeals her sentence for involuntary manslaughter and aggravated arson. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.

         {¶2} In September 2016, Scott was charged in a nine-count indictment for allegedly setting fire to her home, resulting in the death of her roommate. Scott was charged with involuntary manslaughter, aggravated murder, attempted murder, murder, aggravated arson, arson, and felonious assault. Pursuant to a plea agreement with the state, Scott pled guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of aggravated arson. The trial court ordered a presentence investigation report and set the matter for sentencing.

         {¶3} At the sentencing hearing, the trial court heard the state detail Scott's offenses. It was uncontested that Scott set a fire in the first-floor unit she rented in a two-family home, resulting in the death of her male roommate with whom she had been drinking and had fought with earlier in the evening. Scott's two dogs also perished. Another male roommate climbed out a second-story window and jumped off of the roof to escape the blaze. A family living in the adjacent unit next door was also able to escape the burning building.

         {¶4} Immediately after the fire, Scott's surviving roommate and the responding fire investigators from the Cleveland Fire Department observed that Scott did not appear as if she had escaped a burning home _ she did not smell of smoke, and her clothes were free of soot. Scott's surviving roommate did not appear at sentencing, but had made a statement explaining that Scott did not respond when he confronted her outside the home after he had escaped the fire. He further explained that she had a "sh*t-eating grin on her face" when he confronted her.

         {¶5} The fire investigator reported that Scott displayed several indicia of being intoxicated. The state described for the trial court an audio recording of the fire investigator's interview with Scott. The state noted that the investigator had difficulty getting answers from Scott. When the investigator asked Scott "who started the fire?" she first responded, "I did it" but seconds later said, "I didn't do it."

         {¶6} The trial court then heard statements from one of the investigators with the Cleveland Fire Department and a family member of the deceased victim. Scott acknowledged responsibility for the crimes, explaining she was very intoxicated at the time and she struggles with alcoholism.

         {¶7} The trial court sentenced Scott to ten years in prison on Count 1 - involuntary manslaughter; eight years in prison on Count 6 - aggravated arson; and seven years prison on Count 7 - aggravated arson. The trial court further ordered the prison terms for Counts 6 and 7 to be served concurrently to one another but consecutively to Count 1, for a total prison sentence of 18 years.

         {¶8} It is from this order that Scott appeals, raising a single assignment of error for review.

         Assignment ...


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