Reprinted with Permission
The former fire chief's wife accused of plotting to set several fires in Columbia County took the stand Thursday afternoon in her own defense.
Police said the woman conspired with another firefighter to commit the crimes.
Kristen Strausser told the jury she was sexually involved with another firefighter and the two decided to set fire to a home in 2009 so they could fight the blaze.
That same jury is expected to decide Friday if Strausser is guilty of plotting with a fellow firefighter to burn homes, leading to serious injuries.
All along Kristen Strausser has had no comment after she was charged with conspiring to torch homes in the Orangeville area.
On day two of her trial she told her own version, taking the stand in her own defense.
In May, 2009 Strausser was having an affair with a fellow firefighter, Colton Barrett. He set fire to a home in Fishing Creek Township, trapping an elderly couple inside.
While the victims survived, Barrett and Strausser were arrested. Prosecutors said Strausser and Barrett planned the fire so they could make heroic rescues.
The defense denies Strausser had anything to do with the near-fatal fire.
"There's an admission of guilt as to the Belles case and certain aspects of it. Not for the Albertson case. No admission of guilt. She denies having anything to do with the Albertson fire," said defense attorney Greg Moro.
Orangeville's current fire chief testified that both Barrett and Strausser were at the scene of the fire in May, 2009. He is convinced Kristen Strausser coaxed Barrett and said the whole thing caused difficulties for the fire company.
"It's hurt the fire company a lot. The community has stood behind us a whole bunch. Our fundraisers are still productive. The community has never blamed the fire company. They still support us. They understand we had two individuals who weren't all that good," said Orangeville Fire Chief Dennis Boyd.
Court officials said closing arguments will be Friday morning and the jury is expected to begin deliberations.
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