Mom gets 35 years for insurance fire mistake that kills son
GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP) — A mother in South Carolina has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for arranging a fire at her mobile home to get insurance money and killing her son, who she did not know was inside.
The older brother of the boy is already serving 16 years in prison for the revenge killing of the man who set the fire in 2014, Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said.
A Georgetown County jury found Marissa Cohen, 45, guilty Thursday of first-degree arson, unlawful conduct toward a child and conspiracy in her son’s death, Richardson said.
Cohen bought renters insurance on the mobile home in Andrews in 2014, then moved all her possessions out and told friends it had electrical problems so she could burn it and get the money, prosecutors said.
The night of the fire, Cohen’s 12-year-old son, Dave Sycience Coombs, was walking home from a birthday party when it started to rain. He went inside the mobile home, which was closer than his mother’s new apartment, authorities said.
The man Cohen hired to set the fire didn’t know that when his nephew set the blaze, authorities said.
The boy died from smoke inhalation.
Randy Collins pleaded guilty to helping to set the fire and is serving the minimum 30 years on the arson charge.
Collins said he was offered $5,000 of the $25,000 insurance to set the trailer on fire. Collins said he brought his nephew James Miller to the trailer to set the blaze.
Miller was fatally shot a year later by the dead boy’s older brother, Devon Coombs. Coombs said in court as he was being sentenced to 16 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter that he wanted revenge for his brother’s death, Richardson said.
Investigators also found a letter from Cohen to Devon Coombs encouraging him to kill witnesses is the case, prosecutors said.
Evidence presented at Cohen’s trial included proof she bought kerosene less than a day before the fire even though her new apartment did not use it. Firefighters testified they found four places in the mobile home where a flammable liquid was poured on the floor, Richardson said.
Phone records showed Cohen called Collins several times just before the fire started and when she was at the home after it burned. The first police officer at the scene testified Cohen was emotionless after finding out her son was dead, Richardson said.
“It’s a tragedy all the way around because the fallout from this was compounded with the other events that occurred from this one fire. Scyience by all accounts was a special little boy with a great personality. He was athletic, loving and friendly. He is loved and missed by many,” Richardson said in a statement.