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Nelson Woman Found Not Guilty of Murder, Guilty of Arson - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Nelson Woman Found Not Guilty of Murder, Guilty of Arson

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A split verdict has come down Wednesday for a Nelson County woman on trial for arson and murder.

Linda Blackwell has been acquitted of first-degree murder and one count of arson after a fatal fire at her home in 2009 - but she was found guilty of setting two other fires and attempting to obtain money by false pretenses. 

In the past five years there have been three fires at Blackwell's homes and two smaller incidents. The prosecution claimed Blackwell set the fires on purpose to cash in on insurance money.

Wednesday in court, Blackwell was found not guilty of first-degree murder in connection to a fire that killed James Shelton in 2009. She was found guilty of obtaining money by false pretenses after fires in 2009, 2012, and 2013. She was also found guilty of burning an occupied dwelling related to fires in 2012 and 2013. She was also found guilty of larceny.

After the not guilty of first-degree murder verdict was read, Blackwell broke down in tears inside the courtroom.

After the complete verdict was read, the defense called family members up to speak again before the jury decided Blackwell’s sentence. Some family members mentioned that Blackwell had been abused as a child.

The jury recommended a sentence of 11 years and 3 months behind bars for Blackwell and for her to pay $3,000 in restitution. 

Blackwell's sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 27 at 12 p.m in Nelson County Circuit Court. 

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