QUINCY -- A Quincy woman was sentenced to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for starting two residential fires in 2016 and 2018.
Lori Ann Thompson, 56, faced up to 14 years in prison, with the possibility of probation, after pleading guilty in February to two counts of arson for a Dec. 1, 2016, fire at 2137 Waters Court and a July 2, 2018, fire at 2424 Curved Creek.
In handing down the sentence Thursday in Adams County Circuit Court, Judge Robert Adrian acknowledged Thompson's serious mental health and substance abuse issues, as well as her nonexistent criminal record, but that probation was inappropriate since people were home during one of the fires.
"If it was just yourself that you put at risk, and if it was just your own property, and if this had only been a single fire, the court would have considered probation appropriate," Adrian said.
He sentenced Thompson to three years for one count and four years for the second count. Because one of the fires occurred while she was out on bond, the consecutive sentences were mandatory.
In asking for seven years, Josh Jones, lead trial attorney for the Adams County state's attorney office, said he considered ?Thompon's mental health and substance abuse issues, but he couldn't agree to probation when the July 2018 fire took place at the home of an elderly couple who were home.
"They were minding their business, and they woke up to find their house on fire," Jones said.
During his argument, Thompson's attorney, Tony Cameron, noted that Thompson had serious mental health issues and that she self-medicated with alcohol.
"The only person she attempted to harm was herself," Cameron said.
He argued that probation would allow Thompson to return to useful citizenship pointing out that housing has been set up with a landline telephone for an ankle bracelet that would monitor whether she uses alcohol. A counseling plan, along with intensive outpatient alcohol treatment, also was ready.
Cameron also argued that Thompson had spend 403 days in the Adams County Jail, which he noted is considered harsher than prison.
In a response to Cameron's argument, Jones said that Thompson wasn't being held in the jail as punishment, but because she was arrested on new arson charges while out on bond for earlier charges.
"She set somebody else's house on fire," he said.
In a statement to court, Thompson apologized for starting the fires and those it affected, and she said she understood how serious any form of arson is.
"I once was an asset to the community before these incidents, and I can become one again," she said.
As part of Thompson's plea deal, two counts of aggravated arson and four counts of residential arson were dropped. She also had been accused of starting fires Oct. 11, Nov. 8 and Nov. 10, 2016, at 2436 Curved Creek and Oct. 4, 2017, at 3206 Rutledge Place.
She is being held in the Adams County Jail on $5 million bond.