Jury Agrees With Insurance Company That Lesbian Couple Faked Hate Crime In Burning Down Their Own Home

2B24880000000578-3186742-Carol_Ann_and_Laura_Stutte_reduced_their_own_house_to_a_pile_of_-m-3_1438851728009There is an interesting case in Tennessee where a federal jury found that a lesbian couple faked a hate crime to describe their torching of their own home. Carol Ann and Laura Stutte however were never charged with arson or filing a false police report.

The alleged hate crime produced an outpouring of support for the couple.

2B25D45200000578-3186742-image-a-1_1438865923056American National Property and Casualty Company suspected a hoax even though the police did not reach the same conclusion when the couple implicated a neighbor. The company argued to the jury that the couple sprayed the word “queers” on the side of the garage as part of the ruse to collect more than $276,000. It also presented evidence that it said showed that the couple started the fire.

Notably, the couple named Janice Millsaps as a likely culprit in news reports but filed a lawsuit alleging that she threatened to kill them and burn their house down in Vonore, Tenn.. They said that Millsaps made a shocking statement one month before the fire: “Do you know what is better than one dead queer? Two dead queers.”

Millsaps however was never charged despite a probe by the FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Yet, there was also no charge against the couple.

Clearly this ruling does not mean that the couple is in fact guilty. It shows rather that a jury did find evidence to support the company’s suspicions. It is also important to note that this was done under the lower evidentiary standard of a civil case, not the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt. As shown in the OJ Simpson case and other cases, it is easier to establish such facts under a preponderance of the evidence. For example, the couple could argue that this is the result of bias against them due to their sexual orientation.

The question is now whether the police will reexamine the possible basis for a false police report or other crimes such as attempted insurance fraud. Fraud generally as a three year statute of limitation in Tennessee under Tenn. Code § 28-3-105(1) and (2). There is also the possibility of a defamation claim by Millsaps. However, the statute of limitations could prove a problem for such an action. In Tennessee, slander actions should be filed “within six (6) months after the words are uttered.” (See T.C.A. § 28-3-103). Likewise, a libel action should be filed within one year (See T.C.A. § 28-3-104(a)(1). There are ways to toll such statutes but it could be difficult in this case.

54 thoughts on “Jury Agrees With Insurance Company That Lesbian Couple Faked Hate Crime In Burning Down Their Own Home”

  1. BarkinDog: I saw an episode of Perry Mason when I was a kid where a German Shepherd seeing-eye dog was called to testify. He had been out walking with his owner, a young blind woman, when someone came up and stabbed her. There was no evidence, except that when the suspected assailant was brought into the courtroom, the dog alerted, started barking and had to be restrained from jumping him. The creep was convicted.

  2. I’m wondering how a handwriting expert could determine that something written in spray paint could match the homeowner’s handwriting. I worked for a law firm that hired a PI to investigate the authenticity of a suicide note.The note was written with a large felt tip “magic marker” pen. The PI referred it to a handwriting expert who said that he could not make a determination because that type of pen does not allow for the details in handwritten script that one would see in a regular ink pen or pencil. Something written in spray paint would be even further afield. As to the other evidence, it is my understanding that generally house fires are caused by such factors as lint in dryer vents or frayed electrical wires; things that can be identified by experienced fire investigators. Anytime an accelerant is present a red flag goes up. Along with the absence of the pets and baby pictures, ha ha, I hadn’t thought of that!

  3. Regarding the culpability of the two home owners, if the Police leave it alone, could surface if the homeowners pursue the matter through appeal. If they did not burn their own house down, it doesn’t mean that evidence of arson won’t be found. If evidence of arson isn’t found then they get to go after the insurance claim.

    If evidence of arson is found then there has to be an arsonist(s). It will be either the homeowners or someone else.

    The impetus for the homeowners to pursue this is obviously tempered with the risk of being convicted for the crime of arson, fraud, etc. What would be most interesting is to observer their demeanor after a few months, if the police don’t pursue this; let sleeping dogs lie, breathe a sigh of relief, count your blessings, cut your losses, or go for broke?

    We need some follow up on this one.

  4. Paul — with all the pro PC language and being publicly scorned for it, our world is headed for a new Puritan era. 🙂

    1. Msjettexas – I read a great research article on the Puritans and it turns out the Puritans were just as hormonal as we are. This person had gone through all the court records and amount of sexually based ‘crimes’ were huge. 😉

  5. The best arson story I know of was an episode of Forensic Files. A true story, where a young man was convicted of burning down the house he shared with his elderly parents, resulting in their death. The prosecution’s theory was that he was tired of the burden of caring for his semi-invalid parents, and wanted the personal and financial freedom that he could only get if his parents died and left him with an inheritance. The young man’s relatives all stood by him, and insisted that he had never expressed any resentment of having to do grocery shopping and other chores for his parents. Nevertheless, he was convicted of two counts of murder and of arson and sentenced to prison. The damning evidence was that the wooden floor in the living room tested positive for gasoline. One of the investigators was uncomfortable with the conclusion, and continued to investigate the matter even after the conviction, despite increasing pressure from his law enforcement colleagues to drop it. The investigator was troubled by the fact that while the floor tested positive for gasoline, that there was no gasoline in the carpet and pad that had been in place above the floor for many years. His dogged investigation finally uncovered that when the sub-division was built, a cost-cutting contractor had diluted the wood stain for the floors with gasoline, because gas was cheaper at the time than paint thinner. Thus every house in the neighborhood had gasoline in the floorboards. Based on this new evidence, the young man’s sentence was vacated and he was released from prison. The investigator was named “Investigator of the Year” by a national professional organization, for following his instincts despite considerable pressure to not disturb the findings of a successful prosecution.

  6. Considering they burned their own house down and no insurance reward, that’s karma. No charges here.

    The false police report should be a charge, of which I would recommend 5 years of psychology counseling.

    The community sympathy is beyond my understanding. They were embraced for fraud, deception and arson. Unbelievable !

  7. Chief. Thanks so much for posting and saving me time.. After your first few words, I knew there was no logical reason to continue.

  8. The guard dogs should have been called to court as witnesses. The Dogalogue Machine could be employed so that the witness could have the questions interpreted into barks and then bark back their answers and the answers would come up on the video screen as printed response.

  9. We do not want any bent people around our dog pac. Especially arsonist bent people. Don’t want no bent people round here!

  10. In a prior life as a human I was a musician. One of my favorite songs is called Short People by Randy Newman. If one were to substitute the word “bent” for “short” then the song has relevance here:

    Randy Newman – Short People Lyrics
    Short people got no reason
    Short people got no reason
    Short people got no reason
    To live

    They got little hands
    And little eyes
    And they walk around
    Tellin’ great big lies
    They got little noses
    And tiny little teeth
    They wear platform shoes
    On their nasty little feet

    Well, I don’t want no short people
    Don’t want no short people
    Don’t want no short people
    Round here

    Short people are just the same
    As you and I
    (a fool such as i)
    All men are brothers
    Until the day they die
    (it’s a wonderful world)

    Short people got nobody
    Short people got nobody
    Short people got nobody
    To love

    They got little baby legs
    And they stand so low
    You got to pick ’em up
    Just to say hello
    They got little cars
    That got beep, beep, beep
    They got little voices
    Goin’ peep, peep, peep
    They got grubby little fingers
    And dirty little minds
    They’re gonna get you every time
    Well, I don’t want no short people
    Don’t want no short people
    Don’t want no short people
    ’round here
    Songwriters: NEWMAN, RANDY

    1. BarkinDog – even though the PC police had not be invented, Randy Newman got some push back about ‘Short People’ even then.

  11. It only took the jury 2 hours! This was a dead bang arson fraud case. I’ll check Pacer.

  12. @Max-1

    Don’t blame me! Here is a link which shows gays tend to kill with knives in 43% of their intimate partner killings, while straights only do it in 23%.

    Most straights use guns, while over half of LGBTQ’s stab and drown/strangle theirs. (Or give them HIV! which is not in the study)


    I think I read somewhere it is a phallic thing.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  13. Karen, I worked on a task force in KC w/ the police, prosecutors, and insurance companies working together to thwart arson. Claire McCaskill, now a US Senator from Missouri, was on the task force. She was a new prosecutor and ambitiously building her resume. You’re correct, these are some particularly mean lesbians fingering a neighbor. They could have just put forth the lie that they received anonymous threats. It would have been smarter since the Millsaps passed a polygraph, which I’m sure made the cops more suspect of the lesbians. Proving arson criminally, as I said is really tough. You almost have to have the defendant seen setting the fire. We proved one arson criminally when the idiot burned himself badly setting the fire. But, we had to try it, the guy wouldn’t plead. Criminal defense attorneys love to try arson cases because they have a good chance of winning.

    I see we have some gullible folks here who believe these mean, nasty, women. I’ll do more research. I would not be surprised if they were in arrears on mortgage payments and facing foreclosure. I also would not be surprised if they have not done some insurance fraud[work comp, slip n’ fall] in the past. Desperate people torch their houses.

  14. I could swear I read somewhere that Lesbians really liked burning things and had problems with pyromania. Kind of like gay guys love knives. I need to start bookmarking this stuff where I can find it later.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  15. Being interested in seeing that justice is blind has nothing to do with loving “fags and deviants”, nor should lacking the advantage of being other than white, straight and male have anything to do with whether these women burned down their house. They live in Tennessee, which is no doubt another factor. BTW: name calling isn’t nice. Tell your Mom I said so!

  16. It looks like the evidence against them was not all that strong, and there was some cell phone evidence that they were out of town at the time. I couldn’t find how long the jury deliberated. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall. Some people would find the dog evidence absolutely convincing while others didn’t. I have no idea as to the reliability of handwriting analysis as to spray painting on large areas.

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