Commitment Ordered in Md. Home Foreclosure Arson - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Commitment Ordered in Md. Home Foreclosure Arson


HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP)- A Sharpsburg woman was found not criminally responsible Monday for setting fire to her home and garage on the day she and were family were to be evicted in foreclosure proceedings.

Washington County Circuit Court Judge Dana Moylan Wright ordered Karen Lee Gillespie, 48, committed to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup until she is deemed no longer a threat to herself and others.

Gillespie suffered from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and an acute dissociative reaction to stressful events when she used gasoline to set fire to her single-family home and two-car detached garage May 12, according to a report by clinical psychologist Anne Middaugh of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The fire did more than $200,000 worth of damage, killed the family's cat and dog, and caused first- and second-degree burns to Gillespie's arms and ankles.

Her husband, who was at work, didn't know about the foreclosure and looming eviction, said Assistant State's Attorney Michele Hansen.

Hansen said Gillespie told authorities "she didn't' feel that she could take it anymore."

She started the fire after getting her two teenage children off to school, Hansen said.

The judge convicted Gillespie of first-degree arson after Gillespie entered an Alford plea to the charge. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgement that prosecutors have enough evidence to win a conviction. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

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