Summit Hill woman says she set fire in murder-suicide attempt — (The Morning Call)

SSRI Ed note: Woman on antidepressants plans murder-suicide of herself and her kids by burning their home, but plan fails. She is charged, faces up to 20 years in prison,

Original article no longer available

The Morning Call

By Chris Parker Of The Morning Call

Oct 20, 2006

She pleads guilty to arson and endangering her two children.
A Summit Hill woman admitted to a Carbon County Court judge Thursday that she set fire to her home in an attempt to kill herself and her two children in February.
Ada M. Smith, 25, pleaded guilty to arson, reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of children in the Feb. 21 fire at 202 E. Fell St.

County President Judge Roger N. Nanovic deferred sentencing pending a pre-sentence investigation.

Smith faces up to 20 years in prison on the arson charge and up to five years in prison on each of the two counts of endangering the welfare of children.
Other charges, including attempted homicide, were dropped in the plea bargain.
Smith, who said she had given each of the children five anti-depressant pills and took 10 herself before setting the fire, is free on $5,000 cash bail.
According to an affidavit of probable cause and preliminary hearing testimony, Smith and the children were in the home’s second-floor bedroom when, police said, she spilled fuel on a mattress and set it on fire.
Smith tried to put out the fire and got the children out of the house before firefighters arrived.
At a March 23 preliminary hearing, Patrolman Albert Bishline testified that he arrived at the house shortly after the fire was reported at 3:45 a.m. and saw the children standing on the sidewalk, crying, and Smith on the porch.
Bishline said Smith was ”very calm” and told him she set the fire because she wanted to die and ”take the kids with her” so they would not be left with her boyfriend, Gregory Pastore, 37. Pastore was sleeping on the first floor when the fire was started. He was not injured.
State Fire Marshal David P. Cusatis, who attended Smith’s plea hearing Thursday, testified that the fire, which was confined to the bedroom, was set by pouring a flammable liquid on the mattress and lighting it. He said at the preliminary hearing that he found a blue plastic 5-gallon fuel container melted to the mattress.
The mattress was burned, plastic coverings on furniture in the room were starting to melt and the ceiling above the mattress showed signs of fire, he said.