Lawrence woman pleads no contest to setting fires at Lawrence businesses; she’s eligible for probation
photo by: Harvey County Jail
A Lawrence woman entered a no contest plea on Friday in Douglas County District Court to setting fires at multiple businesses in the city, one of which caused more than $1 million in damages.
The woman, Abie Schnacke, 19, was originally charged with one felony count of aggravated arson in connection with an incident on Nov. 13, 2022, at 3111 W. Sixth St., which is the address of Lawrence Family Vision Clinic, and four additional counts of arson in connection with fires set the night of Nov. 17, 2022, in North Lawrence.
On Friday, Schnacke pleaded to two counts of arson as part of a plea agreement. Assistant District Attorney Ricardo Leal said the state agreed to dismiss the remaining three counts of arson and would recommend the standard sentence be imposed and for the penalties to run concurrently.
Schnacke’s defense attorney, Dakota Loomis, said that Schnacke did not have any criminal convictions on her record and that she would be eligible for probation in accordance with Kansas sentencing guidelines.
video by: Ten10 Liquor store
Judge Sally Pokorny accepted Schnacke’s plea and asked her if she understood what she was agreeing to. Schnacke said she sort of understood but that she has a hard time remembering what people tell her.
“A lot of what people say to me goes whoosh right through my head. I understand bits and pieces of it,” Schnacke said.
Schnacke said that she had discussed the agreement with her attorney and that she understood well enough to make the plea decision.
Schnacke is scheduled to be sentenced on June 29. She has been in custody since her second arrest on Nov. 17, 2022, on a $20,000 cash or surety bond.
As the Journal-World reported, Schnacke was arrested for the first incident at the vision clinic on Nov. 13, 2022, and was released on a $15,000 own-recognizance bond, meaning she was not required to pay any money to be released from jail but could have been charged that amount if she failed to appear in court.
Two days later she set multiple fires — captured on security cameras — at North Lawrence businesses. Those fires began at a liquor store at 1010 N. Third St. and progressed southward to a printing business and a restaurant.
The fire at the printing business, Lunar Graphix, 725 N. Second St., was set in a recycling container near the rear door and spread into the business. The resulting damage to the business was in excess of $1 million, according to the arrest affidavit in that case.
Two more dumpster fires were set that night at 100 N. Riverfront Road, an area to the rear of the former Allstars nightclub, and at 401 N. Second St., the address of Johnny’s Tavern.
Police located Schnacke behind Johnny’s, where the city-run camp for people experiencing homelessness is located. Schnacke, who officials said was not a resident or guest of the camp, reportedly ran into an outdoor toilet at the site to avoid police. An officer followed, forced the door open, found Schnacke and recovered “handheld portable flame devices,” the affidavit said.