BILLINGS, Mont. — An arson charge has been dismissed against a Montana woman who confessed to setting a fire that caused $1 million in damages to an apartment building in Billings in 2014.

District Judge Gregory Todd suppressed Jesse Elizabeth Root’s confession because it was made during a psychiatric evaluation.

Root, then 25, was found sitting on a park bench clutching a lighter and laughing as firefighters battled the blaze early on June 4, 2014. She was taken to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Court records say medical personnel overheard Root telling family members that she started the fire.

Nobody was injured, but firefighters had to wake up tenants to evacuate them.

The Billings Gazette reports ( ) Yellowstone County prosecutors agreed to dismiss the case as long as Root met some requirements that weren’t disclosed.

Information from: The Billings Gazette,

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.