Jury selection begins in Oxford arson case
MILFORD — Jury selection began Tuesday in the case of an Oxford woman accused of leading a scheme to torch a rental property she owned for insurance proceeds.
Dolores Lee, 63, faces charges of first-degree arson, conspiracy to commit first-degree arson, attempted insurance fraud and attempted first-degree larceny in the case, linked to a July 2016 fire at a house she owned at 586 Oxford Road.
The charges carry possible punishment of up to 65 years in prison.
In court Tuesday, Lee asked Judge Peter McShane for a continuance to raise money to hire another lawyer, but the judge rejected the request after noting the trial date was set in February.
“This case has been around for quite some time,” the judge said.
Lee was charged in December 2016 and pleaded not guilty in March 2017. She remains free after posting $350,000 bond.
According to an arrest warrant, Lee wanted to burn down an Oxford Road home she owned because a tenant owed her back rent.
After the tenant allegedly told a marshal serving an eviction notice that she didn’t plan on leaving, the marshal told police Lee said “No one ever pays me. Maybe I’ll burn it down.”
The warrant says Lee paid three other defendants in the case — Speciale Rose Morris, Martina Brandy Jackson and Leon “Pops” Carson — to drive from New York to burn down the home July 29, 2016.
Morris implicated Jackson with setting the fire, but Jackson blamed Carson, telling police Lee had offered $800 in exchange for setting the blaze.
Jackson and Morris have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit second-degree arson, but have not yet been sentenced. Their next court dates are April 5 and June 25, respectively.
Carson is awaiting a trial to be scheduled on charges of first-degree arson, first-degree burglary, conspiracy, criminal mischief, tampering with evidence, interfering with police and reckless endangerment.
Once a jury is picked, the trial is scheduled to begin June 17.