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Lingerie Store Arson Blamed on Bad Breakup

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By Deanne Katz, Esq. on October 08, 2012 10:01 AM

A lingerie store in California was almost the victim of a bad breakup when it nearly went up in flames early Tuesday morning.

Jennifer Colwell was arrested for arson in connection to the fire that started outside Intimate Obsessions in Dana Point. She had recently broken up with a boyfriend who had bought her some gifts at the lingerie store.

There's no real argument that Colwell was distraught over the breakup or that a fire broke out that night. But that doesn't necessarily make Colwell an arsonist.

In an attempt to get over her ex-boyfriend, Colwell gathered up all the lacy undergarments she'd gotten during the relationship and stuffed them into a pillowcase.

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday she brought that pillowcase to the store, reports Associated Press. But instead of returning the underwear she doused the whole bag in gasoline and lit it on fire. Investigators claim she was trying to burn down the store but Colwell pleaded not guilty to arson in a hearing on Wednesday.

The crime of arson requires that a person intentionally set fire to a building or structure, which includes things like bridges. Unlike crimes that also punish negligence, arson requires either intentional action of extreme recklessness.

Even if the building doesn't burn, suspects can still be charged with attempted arson.

Extreme recklessness covers situations where although the person didn't intend to start a fire, their actions were so unsafe that a reasonable person would have known one would occur.

It differs from negligence because negligence only requires that the harm was foreseeable while recklessness requires that the harm was also likely to happen.

At trial the prosecution will have to prove that Colwell knew or should have known that her actions would cause the store to catch on fire. That will depend on factors related to the positioning of the bag and the height of the flames.

Luckily for Intimate Obsessions, firefighters put out the fire before it reached the building. As for Colwell, she'll get her day in court to explain herself.

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