Three to face life sentence for arson

(WXYZ) - A mother, her daughter and son will be the first in Michigan to face life in prison for arson of a building.

Detroit arson investigators tell 7 Action News the three set fire twice to a home on Devonshire near I-94 on the city's eastside in June 201,  just three months after taking out an insurance policy on the property.

A state law enacted by Michigan lawmakers in 2013 made arson of a dwelling, even if there are no injuries, arson in the first degree, punishable by 20 years to life in prison.

Rita Johnson, her daughter Olivia Floyd and son Darryl Floyd are the first to be found guilty of first degree arson and the first to be considered for the life sentence.

Detroit fire officials hope the new law is a deterrent. 

“I would hope that people realize how severe the punishment is when you commit arson in the city of Detroit, you can get life in prison, “ says Charles Simms, Detroit Fire Chief Arson Investigator.

The first case in the state happens in a city with a history of arson. Detroit is in flames from the original Devil’s Night to daily fires battled by understaffed fire crews with few resources.

“You need to think twice before you either have somebody burn something for you or you burn it yourself.”

The three will be sentenced May 13, 2014 and face 20 years to life, and fines ranging up to $20,000 apiece.

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