‘No contest’ to arson

By From page A1 | January 30, 2013

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.

Cole Mayer

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