Westminster woman gets 10 years in apartment building arson

Eight units, including hers, damaged in $257,000 fire

July 09, 2000|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

A 30-year-old Westminster woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison for setting fire to her apartment in Taneytown, causing $257,000 in damage to the building.

Carroll Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway found Tammy Spellman of the 100 block of E. Main St. guilty of three counts of first-degree arson and one count of reckless endangerment in connection with the fire at 40 E. Baltimore St. on Aug. 1, 1998.

"The callous disregard for the people living in this building is just mind-boggling," Galloway said. "It's fortunate there was not a large loss of life."

No one was injured in the fire, which was discovered at 5 a.m. Spellman's apartment was one of eight in the building; all but hers was occupied at the time, according to court records.

Galloway recommended Spellman be committed to Patuxent Institution, a maximum-security prison in Jessup that handles inmates with mental illnesses. She also was ordered to pay restitution.

Spellman had pleaded not guilty to six counts each of first- and second-degree arson, malicious destruction of property and reckless endangerment, but did not contest the statement of facts against her.

In a statement to support the plea agreement, Assistant State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said the defendant wanted to move into a new three-bedroom house and the landlord had refused to let her out of her lease.

He said if the case had gone to trial, the charges of arson and reckless endangerment would have been supported by 15 state's witnesses who would have testified that Spellman had spoken of her desire to set fire to the building and admitted to the crime afterward.

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