Krystal Gonzales Sentencing
No one is a winner in this case. That was part of the message Judge Chris Schmidt had today as he sentenced Krystal Gonzales, the woman convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a multi-million dollar apartment complex in D’Iberville. She was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay over a million dollars. Here’s a look inside the emotional courtroom.
Krystal Gonzales whispered ‘I love you’ to a tearful family, watching as deputies escorted the convicted arsonist from the court room. Judge Chris Schmidt ruled that Gonzales would serve seven years in prison and have to pay $1.2 million in restitution to Arbor Properties, the owner of the apartment complex she admitted to burning down in March of 2014.
In making his decision, Judge Schmidt said nobody was a winner in this case. He acknowledged that although he did not believe Gonzales intentionally set an entire apartment complex on fire, she did light her then boyfriend’s t-shirt on fire which started the blaze.
Standing before the judge in a final plea, Gonzales delivered a tearful appeal to the court, stating she takes full responsibility for the damage caused from her actions. “Ms. Gonzales, had anyone been killed in this fire, you could have faced a death penalty eligible crime,” said Judge Schmidt.
Gonzales’ mother and grandmother pleaded with the judge for mercy, Gonzales’ fiancé even adding that she would be leaving behind their one-year-old daughter. Judge Schmidt said he did take into account 50 letters that friends and family members wrote him in support of Gonzales’ character, along with his observation that Gonzales has a strong family support system. Ultimately, Judge Schmidt said the fire uprooted so many lives, killing pets, damaging cars and causing trauma for the victims.
One of those victims was Phil Harding. Harding lost everything in the fire. “I harbor no ill will towards the defendant. I think she needs to be held accountable for her actions. Don’t want to ruin the rest of her life but I think some time needs to be served here. I think this is a just result and a just sentence.”