We hear a lot about the role of social media in the law today, and a recent case out of Colorado proves that Facebook posts can sometimes incite strange behavior. Officials in Centennial say that a Facebook update may be to blame for a giant apartment fire in June. That blaze injured eight people and caused about $1.5 million in damages at a local apartment complex. Investigators say the fire may be traced back to a domestic violence situation that was exacerbated by a social media post. The defendant is facing charges of attempted murder and domestic violence.
News reports show that a 23-year-old woman apparently started the blaze after discovering that her ex-girlfriend was in a relationship with a man who was living in the apartment complex. The couple had made their dating status known on Facebook by describing themselves as "in a relationship." Investigators believe that was enough to potentially tip the defendant into criminal action.
The defendant had been accused of threatening and assaulting her ex-girlfriend in the past. In fact, she had allegedly choked the other woman at a nearby retail establishment. Authorities say she was also charged with a hit-and-run crash after smashing into the new boyfriend's vehicle in a parking lot.
One of the woman's friends claims that he saw her purchase gasoline at a nearby station on the day of the blaze. The pair, who had apparently been doing drugs before the incident, then drove to an apartment complex that the friend claims resembled the facility affected by the blaze. The woman spent about 15 minutes out of the car during the visit, according to that friend.
Domestic violence incidents can take a number of forms. These can include simple assault all the way up to homicide. A domestic violence conviction can lead to long-term serious consequences, depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Those who have been arrested in connection with domestic violence incidents deserve the right to defend themselves against accusations of bodily injury through an unbiased courtroom proceeding.
Source: KDVR, "Ex’s Facebook status may have led suspect to set Centennial apartment fire" Will C. Holden, Jul. 21, 2014