Attorney: Arson suspect mentally ill
An attorney representing a Clifton woman charged with setting fire to her own apartment while her brother and two young children were inside said the woman has mental-health problems and is seeking treatment.
“This is a mental-health issue,” Gordon Gallagher, making a special appearance on behalf of 22-year-old Kayla Settle, told a judge Thursday during Settle’s first court appearance.
Appearing via closed-circuit television from Mesa County Jail, Settle began crying as County Judge Gretchen Larson ordered her to have no contact with her 3- and 5-year-old children. Larson allowed her to have contact with her 17-year-old brother at his request.
The judge also allowed Settle to be released from Mesa County Jail on a $25,000 personal-recognizance bond after Gallagher told Larson that Settle has no criminal record, isn’t a flight risk and is seeking treatment through Colorado West Regional Mental Health Center. Settle signed herself out of jail later Thursday afternoon.
Settle is accused of igniting a blaze at 3225 Rood Ave., No. 1, on Nov. 19, causing more than $20,000 damage to the apartment.
Court records indicate she told Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputies that she stumbled upon a masked gunman who sexually assaulted her and started the fire.
She later admitted making up the story about the gunman, telling deputies she was depressed and suicidal.
Settle said she smoked marijuana, took a dose of cold medicine and obtained a bottle of lighter fluid from the shed. After spraying the house outside her children’s bedroom with lighter fluid but failing to ignite it with a match, she said she went inside and lit one of her children’s shirts on fire. She then waited for a while before her daughter alerted her to the fire, according to court records.
Settle has been charged with felony counts of first-degree arson and criminal mischief and misdemeanor counts of child abuse, reckless endangerment and false reporting to authorities. She’ll return to court Jan. 4.