YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A city police officer testified Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that a woman on trial for arson threatened to burn a South Side house down hours before a fire destroyed the home.
Officer Zach Scott testified before Judge Maureen Sweeney that Cheree Moore, 43, made the threat Aug. 13, 2021, hours before a home on Regent Street was destroyed by fire and a woman in the home had to be treated for burns.
Scott, however, acknowledged that he did not include that statement in his original report of the incident until several weeks later, when he was asked about the call by the city’s fire investigator.
Moore, 43, is on trial for aggravated arson for the fire that destroyed the home. Opening statements took place Monday after jury selection.
Scott was working midnight turn and was called at about 4:55 a.m. to the Regent Street home to answer a call about a fight.
Moore was upset because she thought a 4-year-old family member was assaulted by an 11-year-old family member, Scott testified. As he was taking a report, other family members showed up and began arguing, so Scott asked for more cars, he testified.
As people were arguing, Scott testified, “I heard her [Moore] say she was going to burn this house down.”
Later, under cross-examination by defense attorney Mark Lavelle, Scott said he did not include that statement in his original report because sometimes during family disputes, people say things in the heat of the moment they don’t really mean. However, he said he added that statement in October to his original after fire investigator Capt. Kurt Wright asked him what he remembered about the call.
Detective Sgt. Jessica Shields, head of the department’s Special Victims Unit, which investigates crimes against children, testified that her unit looked into the allegations Moore made and could not find enough evidence to press charges.
Fire investigators said the blaze that destroyed the home started in two places. Moore was arrested a few days after the fire.