$100,000 bail set for woman accused of setting grandmother on fire

Posted May 16, 2011, at 2:24 p.m.
Last modified May 16, 2011, at 7:30 p.m.
Emily Cole
Courtesy photo
Emily Cole
Emily Cole, 26, (left) of Ellsworth with attorney James Diehl during her video conference first court appearance before Judge Kirk Studstrup.  Cole is accused of setting her grandmother ablaze Friday in her Bangor home.
Emily Cole, 26, (left) of Ellsworth with attorney James Diehl during her video conference first court appearance before Judge Kirk Studstrup. Cole is accused of setting her grandmother ablaze Friday in her Bangor home.

BANGOR, Maine — Bail was set at $100,000 cash Monday for an Ellsworth woman accused of setting her grandmother on fire at her grandparents’ home on Broadway in Bangor.

Emily Cole, 26, has been charged with attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault in connection with the incident, which occurred Friday.

 
During a videoconference Monday afternoon at the Penobscot Judicial Center, Superior Court Justice Kirk Studstrup said Cole, who was upset about a breakup with her female partner, is accused of pouring gasoline on her grandmother Ernestine Cole and setting her on fire.

Cole has no criminal record, according to the State Bureau of Identification. She still being was held Monday evening at the Penobscot County Jail in Bangor, where she was taken after a mental health evaluation at The Acadia Hospital, according to documents filed with the court by investigators from the Bangor Police Department and the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Ernestine Cole, 77, suffered severe burns on her upper body, police said. She was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, but later transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she was listed in critical condition late Monday afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said.

According to investigators, Ernestine Cole had seen Emily Cole pouring gasoline on pine needles outside the home. The younger woman reportedly doused her grandmother with gasoline and ignited her after the grandmother told her to stop.

Police said Emily Cole also ripped the telephone off her grandparents’ kitchen wall.

The lighter that police believe Cole used to ignite her grandmother was found inside a dirty balled-up sock in her front pocket, court documents revealed.

After the incident, Emily Cole left her grandparents’ residence with her mother, Annette Jones, of Ellsworth. Jones, who is the elderly couple’s former daughter-in-law, told police that she was present when the incident occurred but in another room.

When police arrived, Ernestine Cole and her husband, David, told them the two were heading down Broadway in Jones’ car.

Jones later told investigators that she left the Broadway residence with Cole because Cole kept telling her, “I want to go home.” Jones said she agreed to drive Cole because she was “very frightened” of Cole and did not know what she would do next.

When she reached the Kev-Lan convenience store and gas station on Broadway, Jones told police, she lied to Cole and said she needed water. When she got inside the store, she asked a clerk to call the police and left through a back entrance while Cole was in another part of the store.

Jones told police Friday that her daughter had been staying with her since the breakup with the girlfriend and eviction three days earlier and that they had then gone to Bangor to visit her daughter’s grandparents.

Jones said she had been worried about her daughter for some time because she felt her mental health had been deteriorating.

She also said that shortly before Ernestine Cole was burned, Emily Cole had been sitting on the couch with her grandfather’s pellet gun hidden underneath an afghan. Jones said she thought her daughter intended to kill herself with the gun because she would not have known that would not have been possible.

David Cole, 80, said his granddaughter had been living at her mother’s home since she broke up with her girlfriend and that she had been staying at her grandparents’ home in Bangor while her mother taught school.

As part of her bail conditions, Cole is barred from contact with her grandmother and her grandfather, returning to their residence or possessing dangerous weapons.

Also during Monday’s court hearing, Studstrup named Seth Harrow of Bangor to be Cole’s court-appointed attorney.

Cole is scheduled to appear in court July 7 for a disposition hearing, a court clerk said Monday afternoon.

BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.

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