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Hearing set for accused arsonist's 'unconditional release' from supervision

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Lady justice

Lady Justice

A woman accused of setting fire to her apartment in December 2016 has asked for “unconditional release” from Department of Corrections supervision.

Cheryl D. Freiberg, 55, was ordered to conditional release on Feb. 25, 2019, after being found not guilty of first-degree arson by reason of insanity in November 2018.

Freiberg’s attorney, William McCool, filed for her unconditional release on Friday, arguing several points for which she should be released, including she had no criminal history before the 2016 blaze and only showed “very serious symptoms of a psychotic break,” for about two weeks afterward while in two mental health facilities in Yakima.

He stated in documents that she has lived at the same home in the community since her release from the facility, wasn’t charged in the arson case until September 2017 — almost a year after the fire, and wasn’t on supervision until Feb. 25, 2019, when she was placed on “conditional release.”

That order included an indeterminate period of community supervision and a report by the DOC to the court at least every six months.

Her first report in September 2019 indicated she was compliant with DOC officers, needed no mental health services or chemical-dependency treatment and wasn’t required to work because she was disabled. It also stated she had “ample time to pursue other activities,” including volunteering and taking classes, and she exhibited “no sign of danger to the community.”

McCool’s motion stated she had “remained crime-free and incident-free” besides the fire incident and had been off her medications since 2017 without “any form of psychosis.”

Additionally, the motion stated DOC didn’t “have any concerns at this time as Ms. Freiberg’s behavior has shown no sign of danger to the community.”

A hearing has been scheduled for Monday to determine whether she’ll be released.

Freiberg was charged with first-degree arson and told friends two weeks before the fire that her house would burn down, according to the investigation documents. After the fire, she made statements to several people indicating that “God told her to start the fire,” according to a police statement.

She reportedly told friends while she was in the hospital with injuries from the fire that she ignited paper and dropped it on the floor and couch before leaving the room.

The building Freiberg lived in was a house converted into four apartments with five people living in them, according to court documents. Four of the five people were home at the time of the fire. Three financial reports totaled losses of up to $15,750.

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.