Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth District, Cuyahoga
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
BEFORE: Kilbane, J., E.A. Gallagher, A.J., and McCormack, J.
JOURNAL ENTRY AND OPINION
EILEEN KILBANE, J.
Defendant-appellant, Elizabeth A. Scott ("Scott"),
appeals her sentence for involuntary manslaughter and
aggravated arson. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm.
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
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
It is from this order that Scott appeals, raising a single
assignment of error for review.