A Tennessee Valley woman who admitted to setting her house on fire with her daughter inside will not be going to prison.
Bridget Easterly went to court for sentencing Tuesday. A Morgan County circuit judge gave her a 10-year suspended sentence after he said prison time at this point would be more retribution rather than punishment.
The judge's decision has a lot to do with Easterly's state of mind.
Authorities charged Easterly with first-degree arson on the day of the Hartselle house fire in February 2011. Investigators said she locked the doors and set the home on fire with her and her sleeping 16-year-old daughter inside. The two eventually made it out of the house.
Easterly pleaded guilty in March. At Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Easterly told the judge she has long battled bipolar disorder.
She said a psychiatrist diagnosed her with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and prescribed Vyvanse, a drug that can have side effects including delusion and paranoia. Easterly said in the days before the fire, she went on the roof looking for wire taps.
Judge Glenn Thompson stopped the hearing, saying there is no way to prove that without an expert witness, and gave her attorney time to consider whether they wanted to re-set the sentencing. They decided to move ahead, and Thompson gave Easterly five years probation.
Concerning her treatment, Thompson said to Easterly, "I feel like you're at the place you need to be… You can manage your meds better than the Department of Corrections. You could deteriorate in there."
The judge warned Easterly to stay with her medications. If she doesn't, or fails to adhere to the terms of her probation, she could face 10 years in prison. She is also ordered to pay more than $200,000 in restitution to her husband and the insurance company.
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