Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘No contest’ to arson

From page A1 | January 30, 2013 | 7 Comments

A woman accused of burning down a house and endangering her son in the process pleaded no contest in court Monday morning.

After deputy district attorney Vicki Ashworth amended the criminal complaint against Rachel Wentz to have the first count be for arson of forest lands or a house, uninhabited, Wentz plead no contest the charge, as well as a charge of child endangerment or abuse.

After changing her plea, El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Douglas C. Phimister read her sentence: Five years of formal probation following 210 days in jail at the half-time rate, along with a life-time ban on firearms. She will have to submit to search and seizure by any peace officer at any time and has a restriction on alcohol. She will have to attend any mental health counseling that is recommended to her and take any prescription drugs that are prescribed to her. She will be required to register as having been involved in an arson, a list she will be on for the rest of her life. She will also have to take a one-year parenting class and pay court fines and fees.

The charges came after Wentz, 29, burned down a Garden Valley home on Oct. 29, with a special allegation that a device designed to accelerate the fire was used. Her son, according to the original charge, was in the house at the time, but escaped the fire.


Discussion | 7 comments

  • Pam HaskillJanuary 30, 2013 - 7:18 am

    I guess everyone should get a second chance in life. However, I don't think the punishment fit the crime here. Parenting classes, how about no contact with her child ever!

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  • Georgetown ResidentJanuary 30, 2013 - 9:15 am

    The charges in this case are absurd. This woman tried to burn her house down with her infant son in it. I don’t care what the deal the DA worked out. Aside from having no contact with the child she should be spending prison time for attempted murder. Who sets their own house on fire with their helpless child inside? The answer is nobody who deserves to have a child. I just hope the father of the child does the right thing.

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  • CatherineJanuary 30, 2013 - 12:40 pm

    It says she'll need to take meds and attend talk therapy if these are recommended. Recommended by whom? Has this recommendation been made? What is the process for weekly oversight? Probation and parenting classes have little value if the woman has a psychosis disorder, or if she's been addicted to something serious like meth. She needs frequent monitoring and support. It sounds like this is what the judge plans, but it's unclear how that will be implemented.

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  • CMJanuary 30, 2013 - 7:13 pm

    I think that before people start making comments they need to understand that both the DA and defense counsel need to come to an agreement on an offer. This is actually a great deal on both sides as far as I can see. She is being supervised and will be formally for 5 years and then will be required to register annually for life. How about the fact that no one died and she would not get this kind of supervision in prison and it would cause only further damage. Plus the prisons are so full they are sending people to their local probation departments to be supervised (look up Post Release Community Supervision) who do not fit their incarceration requirements. And no, I'm not a lawyer, but look it up people. This girl is getting a second chance at a real life and a chance at redemption

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  • CatherineJanuary 30, 2013 - 7:44 pm

    CM, I didn't make clear that I think the judge made the right call, if there's actually a plan. I'm all for people who are ill getting medical help. She will need very close support, though, as in weekly, not monthly, as most probation is managed.

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  • SHJanuary 31, 2013 - 10:15 am

    So she attempts to murder her son by burning him to death in an arson fire....and she gets probation and parenting classes? Really? WTF is wrong with the DA for accepting this? "..have the first count be for arson of forest lands or a house, uninhabited" Um it was inhabited - by her son. She was trying to kill him, that was the point.

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  • GGJanuary 31, 2013 - 6:55 pm

    I have to say while following this case, I am shocked that parenting classes are in the works. Sounds like to me she will be able to get her son back? If starting a fire on purpose with your son in the house is not a warning sign, what is?? I am sure there are some kinds of mental health concerns, but is a childs life worth taking that chance? If there is enough concern for a lifetime gun ban, I would think the life of the child would be protected better as well. It is sickening that the State does not do a better job protecting our most vunerable.

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