UPDATED: Lovingston Woman Guilty of Arson, Acquitted of Murder

A Nelson County jury found Linda Campbell Blackwell, 58, guilty of arson in two fires. She has been acquitted of the first-degree murder of James Shelton Jr.

Linda Campbell Blackwell

UPDATED: March 12, 2014 6:00 PM

Linda Campbell Blackwell, 56, could spend the next 11 years and three months of her life behind bars.

A Nelson County jury found Blackwell guilty of two counts of arson as well as three counts dealing with obtaining and attempting to obtain money by false pretenses.

She was found not guilty of the death of James Shelton, a Nelson County man who died from injuries he received from a fire at a home on Creekview Lane back in August of 2009. The Commonwealth believed Blackwell started that fire, but she was not convicted of arson from 2009

“This is a very complex case,” says Anthony Martin, Commonwealth Attorney for Nelson County. “It was three cases in one, pretty much.”

A jury did convict Blackwell of setting two other fires on that same property in 2012 and 2013. The commonwealth attorney says she did so in order to scam insurance agencies, but her defense said those were accidental.

The son of James Shelton says she had a pattern of starting fires going back to the early 80's.

“It was definitely something that kept occurring and was alarming and we all knew that something was going on,” says James Shelton Jr. “It was a matter of it went on for so long, and everyone thought that justice wasn't going to be served.”

Martin says that's he is satisfied with the verdict, but says that there are no winners in this case.

“I do think justice was done, given her age and lack of criminal history before,” says Martin. “I think it was a very appropriate verdict.”

While Blackwell was not convicted of first-degree murder, Shelton's son says he's happy that justice has been served.

“Knowing that the circumstances dealing with his death are over, we do have closure on that part.”

A Nelson Co. judge has the final say in her sentencing, which takes place on May 27th.


March 12, 2014

A Lovingston woman has been acquitted of first-degree murder and arson in a fatal fire at her home, but was found guilty of other charges.

A Nelson County jury found Linda Campbell Blackwell, 58, guilty of arson in two other fires. The court also convicted her on three counts of obtaining and attempting to obtain money by false pretenses.

Blackwell had been charged in the death of James Shelton Sr. The August 2009 fire that killed Shelton also injured Blackwell's husband, David Blackwell.

The other charges pertained to subsequent fires at the same address in 2012 and 2013.

Prosecutors said Blackwell set the fires to collect insurance money. Blackwell's attorney argued the fires were accidental.


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