Alleged Oak Hollow arsonist denied bond ahead of August trial

Posted July 9, 2013 7:01 pm | Filed under Crime and Courts, Featured, Local News

Suyatta Johnson, left, appears before a bond judge at the Rock Hill Municipal Court. Andrew Kiel/WRHI

The woman accused of setting fire to her boyfriend’s bed and eventually causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the Oak Hollow apartments was denied bond in Rock Hill City court Tuesday afternoon.

Suyatta Johnson, 27, faces a charge of Attempted Murder and Second Degree Arson in connection with the blaze, which she initially told reporters on July 2 was the result of her falling asleep with a lit cigarette in her hand after she and her boyfriend were drinking alcohol.

Johnson’s boyfriend, Nesbitt Franklin, told investigators he woke up early in the morning on July 2 to find his bed on fire and his Johnson standing over him.

The blaze later spread across several units at the Oak Hollow Apartment, ultimately destroying five and displacing more than 20 people.

Johnson offered this apology before the court:

Investigators told the court Tuesday the blaze left $500,000 in damage to the apartment complex and another $100,000 to its contents.

Kevin Davis of Rock Hill lived in one of those apartments and said he was jolted from his sleep by the sound of a smoke alarm going off in a downstairs unit.

“I kinda thought it was just someone cooking and, OK,  just got the kitchen smokey, but it kept going off and off. And I’m like ‘Man they won’t turn that thing off’,” Davis said.

“The next thing I heard was the window…[the fire] gushed up and that’s when I looked out the window at the foot of my bed and it looked like the sun was sitting out there,” he said.

Davis and his uncle were able to escape down the stairs, while others, including a pregnant woman, had to jump from a second story window into the hands of firefighters and police officers below.

If convicted of arson and attempted murder, Johnson could face up to a life sentence in prison.