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Jilted Lover Found Guilty of Starting Fire at Ex's House

Irvington resident found guilty of aggravated arson, burglary and criminal mischief, but acquitted of attempted murder.

Kelly Fowler / Photo credit: Essex County Prosecutor's Office
Kelly Fowler / Photo credit: Essex County Prosecutor's Office

An Irvington woman was found guilty of setting her ex-girlfriend's house on fire Friday, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

An Essex County jury convicted Kelly Fowler, 45, of aggravated arson, burglary and criminal mischief and acquitted of the more serious charge of attempted murder, according to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray.

Fowler entered the victim's Maple Avenue home in West Orange and set a basket filled with socks on fire and then fled the scene in the early morning hours of Oct. 9, 2011, according to the prosecutor.

Three people were in the home at the time but escaped without injury.

Shortly after the fire was set, the defendant was pulled over by a West Orange police officer on a routine patrol for making an illegal turn. As he was preparing to issue her a ticket, the officer received word via his police radio that there was a fire on Maple Avenue and all units should respond to that location.

The officer told the defendant it was "her lucky day" and let her go, according to the prosecutor. During the course of the investigation the officer realized the name of the woman he had pulled over that day matched the name of a person who had an ongoing dispute with the victim. Fowler was subsequently arrested.

Fowler and the victim had recently broken up after a tumultuous on-again, off-again relationship. The victim was in a relationship with another woman, who was in the house at the time the fire occurred.

"We believe this defendant poses a serious threat to the community and we will be seeking an extended prison term given her prior convictions and the seriousness of this offense," Assistant Prosecutor Jason Hollingsworth said.

Fowler has four prior felony convictions, officials said. In 1996 she was convicted of aggravated manslaughter. She also has two prior convictions for drug offenses and one conviction for terroristic threats.

Following the jury’s verdict, Judge Hutchins-Henderson ordered that Fowler be taken into custody and is being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 28 before Judge Hutchins-Henderson. Fowler faces up to 30 years in prison because of her prior convictions, according to the prosecutor's office.

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