A Marysville woman pleaded no contest on Wednesday to arson of an inhabited structure and a misdemeanor count of battery on a custodial officer.
Dejanae Morris, 19, was arrested on July 27 for intentionally starting a fire in an apartment complex in the 1100 block of Ramirez Street, Marysville, that resulted in 18 residents being displaced. Morris was a resident of the apartment complex. The fire caused a total loss to one apartment, severe smoke damage to five apartments, and minor damage to the remainder of the complex. The fire damaged the building’s structural integrity and five units were deemed non-occupiable, according to Appeal archives.
Yuba County District Attorney Clint Curry said in exchange for her plea, Morris will receive a grant of probation and a year in county jail. She will have to pay restitution to the victims, which Curry estimated to be approximately $500,000. The probation department will calculate the exact amount prior to sentencing. Curry said some of the displaced victims are still trying to secure stable housing.
“I was very moved listening to their stories of trial and resiliency,” Curry said in an email. “I agreed to a grant of probation for Ms. Morris based on her youth, her lack of prior criminal conduct, her mental health at the time of the incident, input from the victims, and my belief that she is a good candidate to be rehabilitated in the community. Ms. Morris, a 19-year-old girl fresh out of the foster system, was not mentally well when she set her apartment on fire. The evidence I reviewed showed her deteriorating mental health in the months leading up to the fire.”
He credited the medical staff at Yuba County Jail for stabilizing Morris’s mental health and said Morris is now remorseful.
“In this case I believe the community is best served by Ms. Morris admitting what she did, and then working with probation to become a productive member of the community,” Curry said. “If Ms. Morris chooses to not engage in her rehabilitation, then the judge will still have the option of sending her to prison for up to eight years.”
The battery on an officer count stemmed from Morris breaking a tablet computer and damaging a television in the jail. While being detained for that incident, she kicked an officer. The officer was not injured, according to Curry.
Morris is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 18 at 9 a.m. Yuba County Chief Deputy District Attorney Shiloh Sorbello said after Morris’s custody credits are applied, her jail sentence will be about six months.
“Therefore, she should be released approximately a week after the scheduled sentencing date,” Sorbello said in an email.