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Judge rules Longview woman accused of setting fatal apartment fire not guilty by reason of insanity

A Gregg County judge found the woman accused of setting an apartment fire in 2018 that killed two people not guilty by reason of insanity Friday morning.
Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 11:10 AM CST

GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - A Gregg County judge found the woman accused of setting an apartment fire in 2018 that killed two people not guilty by reason of insanity Friday morning.

Kimberly Nicole Bruton, 35, of Longview, appeared via Zoom at a hearing in Judge Alfonso Charles’ 124 Judicial District Court Friday morning. When she was arrested, she was charged with arson causing bodily injury or death.

However, there were questions about Bruton’s state of mind at the time she allegedly started the fire.

In October of 2020, a doctor’s report submitted to the court stated that Bruton was competent to stand trial for the crime.

In the non-pre-trail hearing Friday, after reviewing evaluations by medical experts for both the defense and the prosecution that said Bruton was insane at the time of the alleged crime, Charles ruled “not guilty by reason of insanity.”

Charles said Bruton will remain in custody at the Gregg County Jail until she is turned over to state mental health authorities.

Bruton was originally arrested in June of 2018 and charged with arson of a habitation. The fire occurred on March 9, 2018, at an apartment in the 100 block of Cherie Lane in Longview. Randall Russell and Lisa Tesmer died in the fire.

When Longview firefighters arrived at the scene of the fire on March 9, they found Bruton outside the residence with a bottle of charcoal lighting fluid in her hands, a search warrant stated. According to the warrant, Bruton told firefighters, “She was trying to start a fire in the fireplace.”

Pictured is the Longview apartment building that Kimberly Bruton is accused of setting on fire....
Pictured is the Longview apartment building that Kimberly Bruton is accused of setting on fire. (Source: KLTV Staff)(KLTV Staff)

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