WALLA WALLA -- A woman pleaded innocent Tuesday afternoon in Superior Court to breaking into the home of her estranged husband and his girlfriend this month, then pouring gasoline on the kitchen floor in an attempt to burn down the residence.
Michelle G. Maurer, 36, of 1563 E. Alder St., is set for trial April 17 on the charges of first-degree attempted arson, first-degree burglary and third-degree malicious mischief.
Officials said Maurer forced open a side door at the residence of Rick Maurer and Casey Hamper at 6 Whitman St. on the afternoon of Feb. 7. When the couple arrived home about 2:45 p.m., Michelle Maurer -- with a lighter in her hand -- ran out from the house toward Hamper, punched her in the face and the two started struggling, according to a police report filed in court. Hamper was able to detain Michelle Maurer until police arrived.
A liquid that looked and smelled like gasoline had been poured on the kitchen floor, officials said. Two gas cans were found inside.
In an interview with an officer, Michelle Maurer acknowledged she entered the home and "poured the gasoline on the floor because she wanted (the residents) to smell it," the police report says.
She allegedly had threatened in the past to burn down the house, which is owned by Mitchell and Sandra Hamper.
The Maurers have been in the midst of divorce proceedings for about two years.
Michelle Maurer remains lodged in the County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail.
Terry McConn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8319.