A 34-year-old Longview woman who was indicted in the arson-related deaths of a man and his daughter in March 2018 has been ordered committed to a state hospital.
Kimberly Bruton was ordered by 124th District Court Judge Alfonso Charles to be committed to North Texas State Hospital or another mental health facility for as long as a year. The order was filed July 9.
Bruton previously had been declared incompetent to stand trial on a charge of arson causing bodily injury/death.
Randall Russell, 74, and his daughter, Lisa Tesmer, 52, died in a fire on March 9, 2018, in the duplex they shared with Bruton on Cherie Lane in Longview.
The order stated Bruton is “suffering severe and abnormal mental, emotional or physical distress; is experiencing substantial mental or physical deterioration of her ability to function independently, which is exhibited by the defendant’s inability, except for reasons of indigence, to provide for her own basic needs, including food, clothing, health or safety; and is unable to make a rational and informed decision as to whether or not to submit to treatment.”
Bruton could face a trial if she is declared competent, according to her court-appointed attorney, Craig Bass of Longview.
She was evaluated by a court-appointed forensic psychologist, and on Sept. 23, 2019, Charles declared her incompetent to stand trial based on the psychologist’s findings. He ordered her at the time to be committed to a mental health facility for treatment for as long as 120 days.
Bruton initially was arrested at the scene in which Longview firefighters found her standing outside the duplex where the bodies of Tesmer and Russell were discovered amid the ashes.
A search warrant stated Deputy Fire Marshal Marcus Delaney arrived to find Bruton “standing outside the residence holding a 32-ounce bottle of charcoal lighter fluid.”
The warrant said Bruton told the investigator she had been trying to start a fire in the fireplace with the lighter fluid. It also said one body was found on a bed while the other was on the floor near the back door.
While Bruton was initially released from jail two days later because of lack of evidence, she was indicted five months later on a charge of arson causing bodily injury/death.
She was arrested May 23, 2018, in Denton on an unrelated arson charge, at which point Longview fire officials interviewed her again about the duplex fire.