Erie woman pleads guilty to setting woman on fire
A 59-year-old woman faces up to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to using rubbing alcohol to set another woman on fire at an east Erie residence in December.
Mary E. Hull of Erie pleaded guilty to first-degree felony counts of aggravated assault and arson. Erie County Judge John J. Mead accepted the plea and scheduled sentencing for Sept. 26 before Judge Daniel Brabender.
Each first-degree felony count carries up to a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in state prison. The Erie County District Attorney’s Office agreed to drop a first-degree felony count of attempted homicide and five misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment as part of Hull’s plea agreement.
Hull spoke little during the hearing except to say that she understood her rights and was guilty of the crimes. She remains in the Erie County Prison on $250,000 bond.
The 43-year-old victim, who suffered burns from her head to the top of her legs in the fire, told Erie police that Hull poured rubbing alcohol on her and set her on fire with a lighter at Hull’s second-floor apartment in the 300 block of East 12th Street on Dec. 8.
The woman told police that she went to Hull’s apartment to get drugs but was not able to get what she wanted, according to testimony at Hull’s preliminary hearing in May. The woman said she was starting to leave when Hull grabbed her from behind, knocked her to the ground and held her down to pour the rubbing alcohol on her, according to the testimony.
Hull told investigators that some rubbing alcohol had somehow gotten spilled on the woman and that she was handing the woman a lit cigarette when Hull was distracted and turned away as the woman caught on fire, police said.
The victim received treatment for the burns at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh. She indicated that the fire was set intentionally and at first communicated with investigators through nods because she could not speak until late February, police said.