July 13, 2020

Lee woman sentenced to probation for arson

BANGOR – A Superior Court justice on Friday sentenced a Lee woman to probation rather than to prison for setting fire to her boyfriend’s home in a thwarted attempt at suicide.

Justice Joseph Jabar sentenced April J. Avery, 47, in Penobscot County Superior Court to six years in prison with all of it suspended for arson.

Avery pleaded guilty to the charge Friday. She was indicted in February 2005 by the Penobscot County grand jury.

Jabar also ordered her to pay more than $550 in restitution to the town of Lee for the cost of putting out the fire.

She faced a maximum of 20 years in prison.

“I just don’t know what would be served by sending her to jail,” Jabar said Friday. “It would not deter another person from trying to kill themselves by arson. … Under the circumstances of this case, [the recommended] 60 days, given her health problems, really isn’t going to make a difference.”

Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, urged the judge to sentence Avery to six years with all but 60 days suspended, which would be served in Penobscot County Jail. Avery’s attorney, Patricia Locke of Lincoln, asked Jabar to suspend the sentence, pointing out that she had no criminal record.

Avery attempted suicide in her boyfriend’s Corbett Road home in Lee on Dec. 20, 2004. She set the Christmas tree on fire, then called 911.

Dispatchers relayed the call to Lee firefighters who had the dispatchers telephone Forest Ranger Peter Pelletier’s office because it was closer to the fire. Pelletier and Game Warden Paul Farrington broke into the home and rescued Avery.

Roberts told the court Friday that when they got her outside, she told them they had arrived too soon. Avery was not injured in the blaze.

The home had more than $60,000 in damage, which Avery repaid after her ex-boyfriend last year sued her for damages, Locke told the court Friday.

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