Christie Michelle Scott is on Alabama Death Row for the murder of her child. According to court documents Scott set fire to her home that would kill her six year old autistic son. Fire investigators believed that the fatal fire was actually set in her children bedroom. It is believed that Scott was trying to collect on the insurance policy. Scott was quickly convicted and sentenced to death.
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|Inmate:||SCOTT, CHRISTIE MICHELLE|
|Institution:||TUTWILER DEATH ROW|
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The evidence tended to show that in the early morning hours of August 16, 2008, a fire was set in the Scott house and that Mason died as a result of the fire. Dr. Emily Ward, a pathologist with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, testified that Mason died from smoke in his airway and thermal burns.
At the time of the fire, Christie Michelle Scott and her four-year-old son Noah were sleeping in Scott’s bedroom, Mason was in the boys’ bedroom, and Jeremy Scott, Scott’s husband, was not at home and had been out of town for several weeks. Sgt. Brian Shackelford of the Russellville Police Department testified that he arrived minutes after the emergency call, that he kicked open the back door, and that he was only able to make it four or five feet inside the house because of the heat and smoke. Firefighters testified that after extinguishing the fire they searched the house several times before they were able to identify Mason’s badly charred body.
The Scott’s neighbor, Jennifer Davidson, testified that her doorbell rang around 2:30 a.m. on August 16, 2008. She opened the door and found Scott and Noah. Christie Michelle Scott told her that her house was on fire. Davidson went to the back of the house to telephone emergency 911 because, she said, the telephone in the front of the house was not working. When she got back to the front door, she said, Christie Michelle Scott told her that her other son, Mason, was still in the house. Davidson telephoned 911 again to inform them that a child was still in the house. Emergency 911 records showed that the first call was made at 2:33:17 on the morning of August 16 and that the second call was made at 2:35:48—two and one half minutes later.
After police and firefighters arrived at the scene, Davidson stayed with Christie Michelle Scott. Davidson testified that when Scott was in the ambulance Christie Michelle Scott said, “Don’t call Jeremy. Don’t call Jeremy. He’ll blame me or he’ll try to hurt his self.” (R. 998.) Davidson also heard Christie Michelle Scott ask what fire marshal was at the scene. Scott said that she did not like one of the fire marshals because he had worked her other house fire. Davidson also testified that Christie Michelle Scott was fully dressed and that at one point while they were in the ambulance Scott patted her pant pocket and pulled out a cell phone and said: “I had my cell phone the whole time. I could have called 911.” (R. 997–98.)
Davidson’s boyfriend, Brian Copeland, testified that Christie Michelle Scott came to the door of the house he shared with Davidson in the early morning hours of August 16 and told them that her house was on fire. Copeland ran to the Scott’s house to try and find a way inside to help Mason. Copeland said that Christie Michelle Scott told him that all the doors were locked and there was no way to get inside the house, that Christie Michelle Scott did not enter any numbers in the keypad to open the garage door in his presence, that he did not enter any numbers in the keypad, and that he did not have to restrain Christie Michelle Scott to prevent her from going into the house. These statements were inconsistent with Scott’s account of the events on August 16, 2008.
An emergency medical technician with Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service, Elzie Malone, testified that he responded to the fire. He said that Christie Michelle Scott told him that she was alright and that she did not need to go to the hospital. Malone said that Christie Michelle Scott then said: “How am I going to tell Jeremy that I have let his baby die?” (R. 1061.)
Several officials testified concerning a statement that Scott’s father’s, Donald Bray, made to Scott when he arrived at the scene of the fire. William Crenshaw, a volunteer firefighter, testified that when Scott’s father arrived he said: “What the hell have you done with my grandbabies?” (R. 1291.) Sgt. Shackelford testified that Scott’s father said: “Oh, my God. What have you done to my babies?” (R. 1260.)
Jerry Yarborough, a paramedic with Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service, testified that when Scott’s father arrived at the scene he was upset and said to Scott: “Where’s my babies? Oh, no, not my babies. What have you done?” (R. 1126.) When Yarborough tried to calm Scott down, Yarborough testified, Christie Michelle Scott said to him “You don’t understand. I killed his [Jeremy’s] baby.” (R. 1128.) Yarborough also testified that Scott said that she didn’t know how someone could be so unlucky as to have two fires in three years and “I hope it ain’t that one [the fire marshal] from Colbert County. I don’t want him here.” (R. 1128.)
Cpt. Steve Thornton with the Russellville Fire Department testified that he arrived at the scene after the fire had been extinguished. The fire, he said, originated in Mason’s and Noah’s bedroom. He said that some of the electrical outlets from the bedroom were cut out of the wall in his presence, that each outlet was cut at a different length to identify it, and that the outlets were photographed from all angles. One outlet, he said, the outlet that was behind Mason’s bed could not be located; however, numerous photographs of this outlet had been made. Thornton said that firefighters sifted through the fire debris for 8 to 10 hours but were unable to locate this missing outlet.
Dolan Gassett, a deputy fire marshal, testified that he found a disabled smoke detector in the hallway outside the boys’s bedroom. (R. 1818.) Morris Brown, a former firearms and toolsmark expert with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, testified that in his opinion the smoke detector had been forcibly removed, or pulled from the wall, before the fire started and it was lying on the floor, undamaged by the fire. He said: “[S]ome force acted upon the wires enough to cause the tearing of this housing and caused the collateral abrasion of the wire.” (R. 2399–40.) There was evidence indicating that everything else mounted on the walls at the same height as the smoke detector—the electrical box that housed the smoke detector, a thermostat, a wooden doorbell cover, and a picture frame—had sustained serious heat damage or had melted completely. Testing indicated that the smoke detector would have worked properly if it had been on the wall at the time of the fire.
James Edwards, a deputy with the State Fire Marshal’s Office, testified that he interviewed Scott at the Russellville Fire Department on August 26. Christie Michelle Scott gave the following account of the events of August 16:
“I went back to watch TV. I was watching Fear on HBO. I went back to check on them at 10:00 p.m. Mason was asleep and Noah Riley was not. I turned on the satellite and told him that he needed to go to sleep. I went back to watch my movie. The movie went off around 11:00 p.m. I went in the room to check on the boys. The TV was off and Noah Riley was still awake. I told him to come get in the bed with me.
We went to my room and went to bed. As I went to sleep, the house was fine. The Jack and Jill bathroom light was on and the night-light played and—plugged into the wall. In my room I had turned the light on over the toilet for Noah Riley. We went to sleep.
“The next thing I remember is something hitting my face. As I started to wake up, I could smell the smoke and feel the heat on my face. I rolled off the bed and covered Noah Riley and told him to be still. I crawled over to the door. I looked out in the hallway, which was covered in smoke. I could see flickering that I thought at the time was coming from the laundry room.
“I went back into our room, pushed the door to. I crawled back over to the bed and pulled Noah Riley off in the floor. He began to cry at this point. I took a deep breath, stood up, and opened the window. I punched the screen out. I picked up Noah Riley, kissed him, told him I loved him, and dropped him out of the window.
“At this time I could hear crackling and popping. I began to try to get out of the window, got halfway out and fell. When I got on the ground, I took, Noah Riley by the hand and started around the house. He told me that I was hurting him. So I picked him up and carried him through the front yard with me.
“Where there was—there was fire coming out of the window in the boys’ room and going over the top of the roof. It was orange. I ran to Jennifer’s house, banged on the door. When she came to the door, I handed Noah Riley to her, told her to dial 911 that the house was on fire.
“I yelled to her that Mason was still in the house as I headed back to the house. I ran over to the garage doors. I put in the code and the doors would not open. I tried several times to get in with the code. Then I ran around to the front of the house. The flames had started running across the peak of the roof.
“I was headed to the front door when Brian [Copeland] grabbed me and held me down. Later I remembered the light in my bathroom was off when I woke up.”
A psychiatrist, Dr. Rebecca Dailey, testified that Mason was brought to her for an evaluation in April 2007. She diagnosed Mason with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (“ADHD”); Oppositional Defiant Disorder (“ODD”); and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (“PDD”). She prescribed Abilify for his obsessive behavior; Risperdal as a antipsychotic; and Vyvense for his hyperactivity. Dr. Dailey testified that she last saw Mason 12 days before his death.
A pediatrician, Dr. Duane Carter, testified that on February 6, 2008, he diagnosed Mason with bronchitis and prescribed an antibiotic Omniced, a steroid drug Decadron, and a codeine based cough syrup whose generic name is promethazine. He prescribed promethazine again on April 16, 2008. Dr. Carter testified that the cough syrup would make a child sleepy.
A toxicologist at the Department of Forensic Sciences, Dr. Jack R. Kalin, analyzed Mason’s blood. Dr. Kalin testified that he identified the following drugs in Mason’s system: amphetamines, codeine, and promethazine, an antihistamine typically used to treat nausea in postoperative patients. He said that the amphetamine level in a typical child being treated for ADHD is less than 100 but that Mason’s level was 450—a level, he said, that was consistent with what you would expect to see in a DUI case. Dr. Kalin further testified that this was the first case where he had seen codeine used in conjunction with promethazine and that both substances would induce sleepiness and drowsiness. Dr. Kalin said that he did not find the presence of Risperdal or Abilify in Mason’s blood. Mason’s carbon-monoxide level, he said, was greater than 90% which is extremely high.
The State’s experts ruled out lightning, spontaneous combustion, rechargeable batteries, and faulty electrical wiring as the cause of the fire. Michael Haynes with the State Fire Marshal’s Office testified that there was no indication that any hydrocarbon accelerant had been used. (R.1927.) Dr. Raphael A. Franco, Jr., an electrical engineer, testified that he was asked to examine the scene and to determine whether the fire was electrical in origin. In August 2008, he said, he went to the scene and stayed there for 12 hours conducting his examination. Dr. Franco testified that there were five electrical outlets in the boys’s bedroom, that the wiring ran under the floor, that the outlets were all on one circuit breaker, that he inspected every outlet and receptacle, except outlet number 1, that he took 425 photographs of the scene, that he examined the wiring underneath the house, that he examined the attic, that the night-light was not the cause of the fire, that there was no damage to the underground wiring in the house, that the fire did not originate in outlet number 1 because the electrical box that housed the outlet was intact, and that, in his opinion, the fire was not electrical in origin. He further testified that the television had been plugged into outlet number 5, that the cord to the television was damaged by an external fire which caused the circuit breaker to trip meaning, he said, that the electricity had to pass through outlets number 1 through 4 before going to 5 and that the fire could not have been electrical in origin.
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Christie Michelle Scott is currently incarcerated at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women the home of death row for women in Alabama
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Christie Michelle Scott was sentenced to death for the murder of her child
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A Franklin County woman on death row in connection with the 2008 death of her 6-year-old son has filed a petition asking the Franklin County judge who sentenced her to death to set aside the conviction.
Christie Michelle Scott, 36, filed a Rule 32 Petition requesting she be released from prison because of “ineffective counsel.”
Scott was convicted of capital murder in July 2009. She was found guilty of starting a fire Aug. 16, 2009, at her family’s home on Signore Drive, Russellville. Her son, Mason, died in the house fire.
On Aug. 5, Scott became the first woman in Franklin County to be sentenced to death. Circuit Judge Terry Dempsey overrode the jury’s recommendation that she be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Records indicate the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, the Alabama Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have all three denied direct appeals filed on behalf of Scott. According to reports, those appeals were based on rulings of the court, and evidentiary issues during the four-week trial.
In her latest appeal, Scott’s petition brings up the issue of ineffective counsel throughout the trial. Robert Tuten, a Huntsville attorney, was lead counsel during the trial.
The Rule 32 hearing will be heard by Dempsey. No date has been set for the hearing.
Also, in her petition, Scott has requested the court appoint an attorney to assist her in her appeals.
Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said the Rule 32 Petition is another step in Scott’s appeal process. He contacted Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s office.
“The attorney general’s office will be handling the matter since it involves a death penalty sentence, and will be responding to the petition,” Rushing said. “(The attorney general’s office) has handled all the other appeals, so, I’m sure they have someone dedicated to this case and are well prepared to file a response.”
If Dempsey denies the request to set aside the conviction, court officials said Scott can appeal that decision to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied in April a petition to review Scott’s death penalty sentence.
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Jeremy Scott told jurors Friday in his wife’s capital murder trial that she did not start the 2008 fire that killed their 6-year-old son, Mason.
Christie Michelle Scott, 30, is accused of starting the fatal fire at the Signore Drive home in Russellville on Aug. 16. Her trial in Franklin County Circuit Court will enter its fourth week Monday.
Jeremy Scott appeared to be making eye contact with each of the eight men and six women on the jury – including two alternates – when he emphatically said “no sir” when defense attorney Robert Tuten asked, “Do you believe she started the fire?”
In his opening statement June 11, Franklin District Attorney Joey Rushing told jurors they would hear evidence that Christie Scott started the fire on the bed of her younger son, Noah, as Mason slept in the bedroom the boys shared. Prosecutors contend she started the fire to collect insurance from Mason’s death.
Local, state and federal investigators have testified they determined the fire did start on Noah Scott’s bed. None was able to say how the bed was ignited.
Christie Scott and Noah Scott escaped through a window in her bedroom. Scott told investigators Noah slept in her bedroom the night of the fire. She also told investigators she attempted to rescue Mason but was turned back by the smoke and heat.
Tuten told jurors the evidence will show the fire was accidental and Christie Scott is innocent of all wrongdoing.
Jeremy Scott was in Atlanta on a business trip when the 2:30 a.m. fire occurred.
Jeremy Scott wiped tears from his eyes at times Friday as he talked about the fire and the death of his son. As he began to cry, so did Christie Scott.
As Scott testified, defense attorneys displayed on a large projection screen a photograph of Christie Scott and her two sons taken at a Florida beach about a month before the fire.
During Tuten’s questioning, Scott said investigators told him Aug. 26 they suspected his wife started the fire.
During Rushing’s cross-examination, Scott admitted that after investigators told him Christie Scott might have started the fire, he suspected she was involved. After that question, Scott was quick to accuse police and fire investigators of providing false information about the fire. “I was deceived,” he said.
He also admitted during cross-examination that he was separated from his wife for two weeks in late August and early September, based upon the recommendation of prosecutors and investigators.
During additional questioning by Tuten, Scott said that after meeting with a defense investigator in September, he began to doubt his wife played any role in causing the fire. Scott testified he then met his wife at a Decatur motel and spent several hours talking about the fire. He left the meeting convinced she was innocent, he said.
Scott testified he had to hire an attorney to help quash a safety plan and protection against abuse order he had placed against his wife upon the recommendation of investigators when she was named a suspect for starting the fire. He said a Department of Human Resources official had threatened to place Noah Scott in a foster home if he did not comply with the recommendations.
Scott said officials at the Franklin jail have refused to allow Noah to visit his mother since her arrest in September.
Also testifying Friday was Christie Scott’s father, Donald Bray, who told jurors he never suspected his daughter of starting the fire.
While being questioned by Tuten, Bray, who lives in Haleyville, testified he became upset the morning of Aug. 27 when he discovered bruises on his daughter’s arms.
“It looked like someone had grabbed her and bruised her,” he said.
Bray made photographs of the bruises, five of which were displayed on the screen for jurors.
Tuten has said the bruises were the result of fire investigators holding her as they attempted to prevent her from walking out of an Aug. 26 interview.
On June 17, jurors watched a videotape of the interview that showed Christie Scott becoming upset when Deputy State Fire Marshal Jay Edwards told her investigators believed the fire was intentionally set. Christie Scott immediately began calling for her husband and walked out of the camera’s field of view. While out of camera range, she could be heard crying and demanding to be released, screaming, “Let me go,” repeatedly.
During cross-examination by Tuten after the June 17 videotape, Edwards testified that he stood in the door of the room to prevent Christie Scott from interrupting her husband’s interview that was also under way at fire station No. 2 in Russellville.
On Friday, Jeremy Scott testified he heard his wife calling for help during the interview and started to respond to her calls, but was thwarted by investigators. “They sort of told me I didn’t need to do that,” he said.
Christie Scott remains in the Franklin jail without bail. If she is convicted of capital murder, she could be sentenced to die by lethal injection.