It took a Payette County jury of seven men and five women one hour to find 56-year-old Catherine Carlson guilty of first degree arson, possessing a hoax destructive device and indecent exposure. The 56-year-old transgender woman faces up to 35 years behind bars and fines totaling $120,000 when she is sentenced on June 17.
Carlson's public defender Phillip Heersink told Citydesk that he was not "overly surprised" but was "still disappointed."
Against Heersink's advice, Carlson took the stand as her only defense witness. The cross examination took a turn when Prosecutor Anne Marie Kelso questioned Carlson about her previous identity, Daniel Carlson.
"No," shouted Carlson when asked if she went by the name Daniel. "I was born with that name but nobody has referred to me as Daniel Carlson since the early '70s."
Carlson said she was angry because, in her words, she had been targeted for hate crimes for being a transgender.
"I'm angry because what happens is that I end up locked up in my own house because I don't feel safe," she said.
Carlson was convicted of setting her Payette trailer home ablaze on July 11, 2010, and leaving a threatening note that the trailer was booby trapped. She was found naked a short time later, wandering along U.S. Highway 95 outside of Payette.
After the jury was excused, District Judge Susan Wiebe urged Carlson to participate in a pre-sentencing investigation. Carlson told the judge in a whisper that she did not see any benefit of participating, because she might deliberately violate any type of probation.
Human rights activist Emilie Jackson-Edney, who attended the trial, told Citydesk she felt Carlson had been treated with respect. Jackson-Edney said she was not surprised by the verdicts.
[Editor's Note: In the interest of full disclosure, parts of a phone conversation BW contributor Jody May-Chang had with Carlson in the course of her reporting on Carlson's case over the last several months was played in court. May-Chang's reporting was also referenced in court.]