Woman charged with felony over fire at mother's home

URBANA — An Urbana woman with a history of police contacts has been charged with a felony alleging she tried to set a fire inside her mother's home.

Urbana police Sgt. Dan Morgan said Johnia Wilson, 40, who listed an address in the 1000 block of North Mathews Avenue, was arrested Sunday about 6:15 p.m. after she allegedly set fire to clothing in bags in a bathroom at the home she shares with her 66-year-old mother.

Morgan said Wilson told her mother that she had set the fire because she was upset but couldn't say why. Lela Wilson sustained minor burns trying to put the fire out before firefighters arrived, Morgan said.

Wilson was taken to Presence Covenant Medical Center where police tried to have her involuntarily committed. Morgan said hospital officials declined to admit her because she had failed to cooperate with staff there in prior admissions, he said.

Morgan said police decided to arrest Wilson out of concern for the safety of her mother.

On Monday, the state's attorney's office charged her with attempted aggravated arson, a Class 1 felony carrying potential penalties ranging from probation to four to 15 years in prison upon conviction.

"This is yet another situation where the criminal justice system is called upon to deal with mental health issues and we will certainly take into account this individual's long term needs as we resolve this case," said State's Attorney Julia Rietz.

Although Wilson has no criminal history, Morgan said the police department has had several contacts with her.

Judge Richard Klaus granted a request by the public defender's office to appoint a psychiatrist to evaluate Wilson for fitness to stand trial. She's due back in court on that question July 23.

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