A woman accused of killing three people in a 2019 townhouse fire in Edgewood is now facing a fourth count of first-degree murder stemming from the alleged arson.
Bobbie Sue Hodge, 61, was indicted Dec. 8 in connection to the death of 52-year-old Mary Elizabeth Kennedy, who died in January. Kennedy was one of eight people living inside the three-story townhouse in the 1800 block of Simons Court when Hodges allegedly set the fire May 9, 2019.
Kennedy suffered burns to over 70% of her body, and was rescued by firefighters from the second floor of the house.
Medical examiners determined she later died of “thermal injuries,” Harford County State’s Attorney Albert Peisinger said, and classified it as a homicide.
Three people — Ernest Milton Lee, 57, Kimberly Ann Shupe, 47, and Dionne Dominique Hill, 32 — died in the fire. Marquise St. John was also injured in the blaze. He jumped from a third-story window to escape the flames, according to documents filed in Harford County courts.
Hodge was already facing three counts of first-degree murder, first- and second-degree arson charges and a bevy of assault, second-degree murder and attempted murder charges. She remains held without bond at the Harford County Detention Center.
Kennedy’s daughter, Christina Scillieri, wrote in an email that Kennedy was in pain every day after the fire and her injuries necessitated surgery. Still, she was unable to move her legs, but felt them in pain, before dying in January. She also began to suffer strokes, Scillieri said, because of those injuries.
Hodge, who was living at the Edgewood townhouse at the time of the fire, allegedly threatened multiple times to burn the home down, according to court documents, and supposedly started the fatal blaze in the home’s second-floor living room. On the night of the fire, the documents state, Hodge was also seen leaving the room where it began, and one of the home’s residents made a phone call to say that Hodge sparked the fire.
Beyond that, investigators noticed her statements about the fire were inconsistent, according to the documents.
Peisinger said the decision to charge Hodge with Kennedy’s death came as a result of the medical examiner’s report, which prosecutors did not immediately have at the time of her death. He estimated prosecutors got the report in early November. Charges were not immediately filed because the prosecutors had to reach out to Kennedy’s family and work around the timing of the grand jury.
Prosecutors will ask the court for a joinder to bring the two cases together, Peisinger said, but that decision will be up to a judge.
Electronic court records do not list an attorney representing Hodge in the most recently filed case. A public defender representing her in the other case, Timothy Bahr, did not return requests for comment by 5:30 p.m. Monday.
A competency hearing for Hodge had been scheduled for earlier this month, but it was canceled. A hearing is now scheduled for Jan. 7 in Harford County Circuit Court.
In a motion filed Nov. 13, Hodge’s attorneys said their client had a substantial medical history and was showing “severe memory issues” and “lack of decision making capacity.” As such, they asked Judge Paul Ishak to approve an evaluation of her competency.
Legal competency is the measure of a defendant’s ability to understand the charges against them and assist in their own defense. If a defendant is not found to be competent to stand trial, the case is set aside and he or she is treated until they meet the standard.