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WOMAN AGREES TO REDUCED CHARGE IN FIREBOMBING

After spending a night in jail, a French Street woman who Tuesday refused to accept a plea deal ended up pleading guilty Wednesday to reduced arson charges in the firebombing last year of a home on Woltz Avenue.

Angela Rainey, 25, pleaded guilty before Erie County Judge Michael L. D'Amico to second-degree attempted arson in the firebombing on Jan. 7, 1997, at 260 Woltz.

D'Amico said he will send her to prison for 2 1/4 to 4 1/2 years on May 19. He told her attorney, Horace Hutson, that he will mull a defense request to have her released from custody pending sentencing.

After Hutson told the judge Ms. Rainey "is ready to serve her sentence" and won't skip town, the judge said he would take that pledge "under advisement."

Ms. Rainey told the judge she was drunk when she gave her friend and co-defendant, Jolene L. Scott, the 40-ounce beer bottle filled with gasoline that they used in the firebombing.

She said she planned the arson because she had earlier been jumped and beaten by a man and woman who lived at the home on Woltz Avenue.

She admitted she knew that the man was home at the time of the arson. One adult and three children escaped unharmed, court officials said.

Ms. Rainey and Ms. Scott were indicted on first-degree arson charges, which carry a life prison term because they involve setting fire to buildings while people are inside.

Ms. Scott, 22, of Leroy Avenue, accepted the same prosecution plea deal March 18. She remains jailed pending sentencing May 18.

Prosecutor Rosanne E. Johnson told the judge that Ms. Rainey's belated admissions were acceptable even though she and Ms. Scott still accuse each other of throwing the gasoline-filled bottle through the front window.

She said Ms. Rainey's guilty plea to a lesser felony charge was acceptable because "no one was injured" and because she faces a mandatory prison term.

D'Amico had been scheduled to begin a jury trial this week for Ms. Rainey on the first-degree arson charge. The prosecution offered her a plea deal on Tuesday, but she refused to admit she had played an active role in the firebombing.

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