Mary Gutierrez in court. (File)
WACO (July 18, 2012)--A former school nurse was sentenced to 10 years in state prison Wednesday after she pleaded earlier in the week to setting a fire at the elementary school where she worked after a disagreement with an administrator.
A 54th District Court jury also ordered Mary Lucille Gutierrez, 56, to pay a $10,000 fine.
Jurors deliberated for about three hours Wednesday before deciding on the sentence.
"With their decision, the jury reached a fair verdict and one that has allowed justice to be served,” Assistant District Attorney Christopher Bullajian said Wednesday.
Gutierrez was seeking for probation after she pleaded guilty Monday to criminal mischief more than $200,000, a second-degree felony, in the Aug. 9, 2011 fire at Speegleville Elementary School.
She claimed she set the fire because she was under stress resulting from a negative performance evaluation and other issues involving the school’s principal and didn’t want to return to work as classes began.
She testified that she intended the fire to be small.
The fire she set, however, caused extensive damage that closed the school for the 2011-2012 school year, displacing about 250 students and 40 staff members.
The building was repaired at a cost of more than $2 million and is set to re-open this August.
According to an affidavit submitted for the arrest warrant, sheriff's investigators interviewed Gutierrez after the school district identified her as a suspect in the fire.
The affidavit says Gutierrez admitted to investigators that she set the fire.
She was arrested Aug. 11, 2011.
The kindergarten wing suffered fire, smoke, heat, and water damage and there was smoke and water damage throughout.