KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) — A woman who set fire to a home in the Kanawha City area of Kanawha County in January 2022 was found competent to stand trial and pleaded not guilty.
Patricia White was arraigned on Friday after her psychological evaluation was reviewed.
White’s attorney entered a not-guilty plea on both counts of first-degree murder and arson.
Her trial date is scheduled for April 3 but a motion to continue is expected. She is being held without bond in the South Central Regional Jail.
A criminal complaint says that White committed first-degree murder by setting a fire inside the back door of a residence on the 5200 block of MacCorkle Avenue on Jan. 31, 2022, just before midnight.
The complaint says that White set the fire after an argument with her husband, David Sims.
52-year-old Dennis Rutledge was in an upstairs bedroom in the back of the house where the fire started. He was transported to the hospital and later died from his injuries.
Police and fire investigators reviewed surveillance video from the Enterprise Rent-A-Car close by, and the video showed a person leaning out a rear window of the first floor, retreating back inside the house, and then exiting through the back door.
A brief light that appeared to be a flame can be seen in the video. The complaint says that the rear of the house was engulfed in flames within a matter of minutes.
A witness who works at a nearby business encountered Ms. White that night and told officers that White was upset about a previous argument with her husband. The witness said that White made a statement about setting the house on fire and had a small blue butane torch in her hand.
The complaint says that detectives located White at a bus stop in Kanawha City. Police say she showed the detectives the butane torch and agreed to be transported to the Charleston Police Department and give a statement to detectives.
She asked what her bond would be while en route to the police department and was told she was not under arrest. She then told the police that she was going to be arrested for arson.
White admitted to police that she was in the area at the time of the fire and believed that her husband was trying to keep her in the house and was going to set it on fire. She said she escaped and said that she saw a fire where her husband was while she left the house. She was released after questioning.
Police arrested David Sims, and he said he was in the home with Dennis Rutledge, according to the complaint. He said he heard a female yelling and screaming, and then an unknown man entered the room asking for David.
The complaint says that the unknown man told Sims that his wife was outside, and when Sims went outside to talk to her, he could tell that she (Patricia White) was extremely intoxicated and belligerent. Sims told police that he tried to calm her down, but she started making threats to set the house on fire.
Sims then told police he walked outside behind a tree to wait for White to leave. He said he saw the unknown man and White both leave the house. He said he walked to the back of the residence and saw it go up in flames. He did not see Rutledge leave.
Dennis Rutledge’s wife spoke with us in February giving her thoughts on the situation and explaining why her husband was in the abandoned home.
Mary Rutledge, Dennis Rutledge’s wife, joined fellow family members in hanging signs, flowers, and other items in remembrance of their lost relative. Mary Rutledge says when she first heard about the incident, she was upset and confused.
I mean everybody has their ups and downs, we had our ups and downs, but never once would I ever consider killing somebody… and the bad thing is, you took the wrong man. You took my husband.Mary Rutledge, Dennis Rutledge’s wife
Rutledge explained that they were separated when she decided to go through drug rehabilitation, but her husband refused treatment. Instead, he decided to take residence in the abandoned home with Patricia Kay White and David Sims, where he lost his life.
As for her thoughts on the person who allegedly committed this act, she says she hopes “she spends the rest of her life in jail, so she can’t take somebody else’s life.” She goes on to say that she will be praying for her to get the help she needs.