Woman arrested, charged in death of her daughter; 12-year-old girl died in house fire last year


A 32-year-old woman was arrested yesterday morning and charged in the death of her 12-year-old daughter in a fire that occurred last year in the family's Cape St. Claire home.

Lt. Robert Lowe of the fire marshal's office arrested Carol Elizabeth Sheats Martin at her home in the 7800 block of Camp Road, Pasadena. She was jailed in lieu of $75,000 bond. Sheats had been named last week in a sealed indictment, which was unsealed yesterday.

Sheats was charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her child, Danielle Francesca Sheats. She is also charged with two counts of recklessly endangering another person -- Danielle and George Michael Martin, who was Sheats' boyfriend at the time and is now her husband, according to Kristin Riggin, spokeswoman for the county state's attorney's office.

"The charges are based on the consumption of alcohol and the reckless setting of fires in her home," Riggin said. She said she could not elaborate.

Investigators believe the fire originated with a lighted candle in the family room of the home, where Danielle's body was found. The house had smoke detectors, but investigators did not know if they were working.

An involuntary manslaughter conviction carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Reckless endangerment carries a prison term of up to five years.

Danielle died in the blaze Dec. 13, 1998, in the two-story home in the 1200 block of Hilltop Drive. The cause of her death was smoke inhalation and burns. Danielle was pronounced dead at the scene. At the time, friends described her as an excellent pupil at Magothy Middle School who liked to draw.

Martin, who owned the home, suffered critical burns when he tried to rescue Danielle. He and Sheats, who were outside the house when fire trucks arrived, were taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Two firefighters who searched the house for the child were treated for burns at Anne Arundel Medical Center and released. It took firefighters about half an hour to bring the fire under control.

In June, Sheats' paintings, done as she recovered from the fire, were the subject of a one-night private show and auction in a room rented by friends at Quiet Waters, a county park.

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