WEST ORANGE, NJ - Kelly Fowler, 45, of Irvington, was convicted of Aggravated Arson, Burglary, and Criminal Mischief for setting fire to her ex-girlfriend's home on Maple Avenue in West Orange. The announcement came from Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray on Feb. 7. She was acquitted on the more serious charge of Attempted Murder.
On On Oct. 9, 2011, at approximately 4:40 a.m., the defendant entered the porch of her ex-lover's home on Maple Avenue and set a basket filled with socks on fire, fleeing the scene. Three people were in the home at the time, including Fowler's ex-girlfriend and and her new girlfriend. The three escaped without injury. Fowler and the victim, who had a turbulent on-again, off-again relationship, had recently broken up.
As Fowler left the scene, she was pulled over for making an illegal turn by a West Orange police officer on routine patrol. As he was preparing to issue her a ticket, he received notice via police radio of the Maple Avenue fire and that all units were to respond to the location.
The police officer let Fowler go, saying it was her lucky day. During the course of the arson investigation, the police officer recognized the defendant's name and realized it matched the name of a person having an ongoing dispute with the victim. Fowler was subsequently arrested.
At the bail revocation hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Jason Hollingsworth, who prosecuted Fowler's case, said, “We believe this defendant poses a serious threat to the community and we will be seeking an extended prison term given her prior convictions and the seriousness of this offense.’’
Fowler also has four prior felony convictions: one for 1996 conviction of Aggravated Manslaughter; two prior drug offense convictions, and one for Terroistic Threats.
The nine-day trial before the Honorable Sherry Hutchins-Henderson, Judge of the Superior Court, found Fowler guilty of Aggravated Arson, Burglary, and Criminal Mischief. Judge Hutchins-Henderson ordered that the defendant be taken into custody, and she is currently being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.
Fowler's sentencing is set for March 28 before Judge Hutchins-Henderson, and she faces up to 30 years in prison due to her prior convictions.