Provoan admits starting motel fire
By Geoffrey Fattah
Deseret News staff writer
PROVO ó A Provo woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of attempted arson after she admitted in court to causing a fire at a Utah County motel.
Before entering a plea of guilty to one third-degree felony county of attempted arson, Patricia Bingham admitted that she set curtains ablaze with a cigarette lighter.
And what prompted her heated wrath? A man who was staying in one of the rooms refused to give her a ride to pick up her paycheck.
"He was really rude to me," Bingham said. "I said, 'I'll light your curtains on fire.' "
According to fire officials and a probable cause affidavit filed in 4th District Court, both Bingham and the man were living April 28 at the Hideaway Motel, 365 S. State Street.
Fire crews were called to the motel after receiving a report of a fire in one of the rooms.
Upon questioning, police say Bingham denied setting the fire on purpose. She told them she was trying to light a cigarette.
After further questioning, police say Bingham admitted to setting a blanket on fire to spite the man for refusing to give her a ride.
The blanket was draped over the window to serve as curtains.
Bingham said she reached through an open window and set the blanket on fire before going back to her room. The flames soon grew and threatened to consume the 12-unit building.
Provo City Fire Marshall Jim Guynn said the damage could have been a lot worse if several people who were staying at the motel hadn't doused the fire with hand-held extinguishers.
Damage to the room was estimated at $500 and the man was able to escape unharmed.
Bingham, who was initially charged with first-degree felony arson, accepted a lesser charge as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. She now faces up to five years in prison and avoids a possible life term in prison when she is sentenced on June 24.
Judge Anthony Schofield said as part of the plea agreement, Bingham has agreed to pay restitution for the damage caused by the fire, which will be determined at sentencing.
In exchange for her guilty plea, prosecutors said the charge will eventually be reduced to a misdemeanor on Bingham's criminal record if she successfully completes probation after serving any jail time that might be imposed.
Bingham remains in the Utah County Jail on $10,000 bail.
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05-14-2003, 12:16 PM #1
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