A federal jury has ruled that a lesbian couple who blamed a neighbor for burning down their home in a hate crime is guilty of having staged the crime and burning down their own home.
The Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting on the story of Carol Ann and Laura Jean Stutte of Vonore, Tennessee who filed a lawsuit against their neighbor, Janice Millsaps, accusing her of burning down their house in 2010 and spray painting the word “Queers” on their garage door.
In the lawsuit, the Stuttes claimed that Millsap had “repeatedly threatened” their lives and “specifically and repeatedly threatened to burn the Stutte’s house.”
They also claimed that a month before the lawsuit, Millsaps told them: “Do you know what is better than one dead queer? Two dead queers.”
Millsaps, who denied any role in the fire, was investigated by the FBI, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and local arson investigators.
The Stutte’s insurer, the Missouri-based American National Property and Casualty Company, conducted its own investigation into the probe, which included a polygraph examination that Millsaps passed. The company eventually concluded that the fire was started by the Stuttes, who then tried to cover up the crime by spray-painting “Queers” on their own garage door.
The Stuttes then filed a counterclaim against the insurer, insisting that they were just trying to get out of paying their claim.
However, a jury ruled in favor of the company after hearing five days of testimony before Senior U.S. District Judge Leon Jordan.
Thus far, the Stuttes have not been charged in the house arsen and the status of their lawsuit remains unclear.
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