EVERETT — Authorities dismissed charges earlier this month against an Edmonds woman accused of burning down the house in which her son was murdered.
Prosecutors had alleged that Cindy Wilson, 58, set fire to the abandoned two-story home outside Granite Falls in December 2015. But, nearly four years after the incident, they acknowledged that a jury would be unlikely to convict her.
In part, that’s because the case went to trial last year, and the jury couldn’t come to a unanimous agreement on what to do. On Oct. 29, 2018, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Jennifer Langbehn declared a mistrial.
During the trial, Wilson said she went to the house to place flowers where her son had been buried.
“What happened after that was unclear, but we know it concluded with the residence on the property being burned, almost to the ground,” deputy prosecutor Justin Harleman wrote. The blaze apparently started with a rolled-up rug sitting in the entryway.
Wilson was intoxicated when she told a sheriff’s deputy she was responsible for the fire. Later, during the trial, she said she was just taking the blame for the group.
A neighbor’s statements appeared to support Wilson’s claim.
The neighbor lived in a house overlooking the alleged crime scene. She said she saw three men go inside the abandoned house, while two women stayed outside, according to court papers. The two women threw things at the structure, but didn’t go inside, the neighbor reported.
Later, when the neighbor saw smoke coming from the house, she said she saw a man, not a woman, leave the house.
A man matching the witness’ description reportedly pinned the fire on Wilson when he talked to deputies. He’s currently serving a prison sentence for unrelated convictions.
“This case is not really about what happened, but rather who did it,” Harleman wrote.
In last year’s trial, prosecutors said that revenge could have been a motive for the alleged arson.
Wilson’s son, Andrew Spencer, was shot to death in November 2015. He and his killer, George Hatt, reportedly had a dispute while squatting together at the house outside Granite Falls. Spencer, 31, was missing for more than a week before his remains were discovered in a fire pit on the property.
The house fire happened not long after the death, while Hatt was awaiting trial. No one was in the home at the time, though Hatt’s girlfriend and her son were living there.
Hatt later was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 36 years in prison.
Wilson pleaded not guilty when she was charged in July 2017 and maintained her innocence throughout court proceedings.