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Jury finds ex-wife guilty of attempted murder, arson

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla.,None — A jury found Kimberly Boone guilty of second degree attempted murder and arson Friday evening. Boone was on trial, accused of of drugging her husband, and then setting their Winter Springs house on fire with him inside. It was the second time Kimberly Boone has been accused of trying to kill her husband, investigators said.

Robert Boone was shot in the chest inside his Winter Springs home in March 2009, but Kimberly Boone was acquitted of that crime. However, three months prior to the shooting, Robert Boone narrowly escaped a house fire.

Prosecutors said Kimberly Boone set that fire in a failed attempt to cash in on her husband's death. A neighbor pulled Robert Boone from the fire.

Prosecutors said she was after her husband’s life insurance.

The case against her was delayed by a day because a key witness couldn't make it to court.

Dennis Richards, Boone's first ex-husband,  testified on Friday morning about a suspicious incident with Kimberly Boone that happened when they were married in the 1990s. Richards said he awoke to the smell of smoke from the basement.

"It was smoking.  I'll never forget this, it was glowing," said Richards. "Something was burning that's for sure."

Richards confronted his wife, who denied doing anything. Neither the police nor fire department was called.  The defense said the testimony never should have been allowed into evidence.

"It wasn't flaming but the rag was, I'll never forget this, the rag was glowing red," Richards said.

This week, Boone's ex-husband Robert Boone gave chilling testimony about the night that he said Boone drugged him with Xanax and tried to burn down their Winter Springs home.

"There was fire going up the side of the wall and across the ceiling,” said Robert Boone.

This is Kimberly Boone's second time defending herself from an attempted murder charge.

Last July, she was acquitted of allegedly shooting Robert Boone in 2008, an incident that he said happened three months before the house fire.

“My first thought was I had to get the kids out and I didn't know what time of day it was,” said Robert Boone.

But the defense made a point, by asking Robert Boone if he had access to his wife's Xanax.

“You obviously would have had access to it. Am I correct?” asked a defense attorney.

“Correct,” replied Robert Boone.

At the time of the fire, prosecutors said that Kimberly Boone was trying to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars she stole from a former employer, which authorities call a plausible motive for murder.

Computer data from a laptop the couple bought months before the fire was presented in court this week.  Eight days before the fire, someone with the username “Kim” searched homeowner's insurance questions and conducted a separate search for drug interactions eleven times.

But, the defense told jurors that the computer was not password protected.

Initially, the fire was ruled accidental and there was a sizable insurance payment. But information from Robert Boone reopened the case.

Prosecutors said they believe Robert Boone was drugged by his now ex-wife, who was desperate for cash after embezzling $750,000 from her employer.

Prosecutors played a taped message in court attributed to Kimberly Boone, asking her employer not to call police if she returned the money.

The defense insisted that no one knows how the fire started. But, prosecutors said they know it was arson.

“We won the previous case and I don't see any reason we shouldn't have won this case as well,” said Defense Attorney Buck Blankner.

The jury took about four hours to reach their verdict.

“We're hopeful that maybe we can wrap her up in prison for awhile,” said Prosecutor Tom Hastings.

Because the jury didn't convict on first degree pre-meditated attempted murder, Boone will face up to 45 years when she's sentenced on December 5.

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