SANFORD -- The Winter Springs woman accused of trying to kill her husband by shooting him in the chest three months after he survived a suspicious house fire was convicted tonight of arson and attempted murder.
Kimberly Boone, 46, is to be sentenced Dec. 5.
Jurors deliberated four hours before concluding that she had drugged her husband to put him to sleep then set their bedroom on fire Dec. 18, 2008.
But instead of attempted first-degree murder, they found her guilty of a lesser charge, attempted second-degree murder. The difference is how much time she might serve in prison, 60 years vs. 45.
“Mr. Boone is alive today only because Kimberly Boone failed in her heartless, cold, calculated intent to burn him alive,” said Assistant State Attorney Tom Hastings.
A jury last year acquitted her of attempted murder in the shooting. At both trials prosecutors portrayed her as an embezzler, some- thing they insisted explained her motive -- she was desperate for $200,000 in life insurance money to repay her boss.
At the shooting trial, defense attorney Francis Wesley “Buck” Blankner Jr. told jurors the whole thing was an accident, that the house was dark and that the defendant mistook her then-husband, Robert Boone for an intruder.
At the fire trial this week, he argued that the Robert Boone, 43, a former firefighter, had started the blaze.
“There’s no good evidence that she tried to kill him,” Blankner said.
After the verdict was read, he immediately asked for a new trial.
Prosecutors had to overcome evidence problems this week. Fire investigators don’t know what started the blaze, and there was no physical evidence or eye-witness tying the defendant to it.
It started on or near a nightstand beside the bed where Robert Boone was napping.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office initially said it was an electrical fire, but after the shooting, it reopened its case and reclassified it as arson, although it could find no gasoline or other accelerant and could not say who set it or how.
State Farm, the couple’s insurer, paid the family $183,000 after hiring its own fire investigators. They, too, could not say how it started.
Michael O’Dowd, one of the insurance investigators, told the jury today that he interviewed Kimberly Boone the day after the fire and found her to be truthful. She said she left her husband napping in the master bedroom and was running errands when the fire broke out.
O’Dowd said, however, that he thought Robert Boone’s account had holes in it.
“I had some concerns that a trained firefighter had trouble getting out of his own house ... and why he didn’t have any burns,” O’Dowd said.
Prosecutors this morning called their last witness, Dennis Richards, one of Boone’s ex-husbands. He told the jury that he awoke one morning in 1993 to an awful smoky smell.
He went to the basement and found a kerosene can with a smoking rag stuffed into its top. Boone, he said, was sitting on the couch upstairs in her bathrobe as if nothing was wrong. No one was hurt.
Richards said Boone denied setting that fire and said it must have been the work of an intruder.
Blankner suggested that was a case of spontaneous combustion, an oily rag catching fire without an external spark.