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Normal woman pleads guilty to arson, child endangerment

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Jo Hammond


BLOOMINGTON — A Normal woman pleaded guilty on Wednesday in a case involving a fire being set with a child inside a house. 

Jo E. Hammond, 40, was charged in September with two counts of aggravated arson, one count of residential arson and two counts of endangering the life or health of a child.

A charge of personal or real property arson was added and four other charges were dismissed in a plea agreement.

Hammond was sentenced to 22 days in the McLean County jail, but she was already given credit for that. She also was sentenced to 24 months of probation.

McLean County Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Lawson said that on Sept. 3, 2019, in the 9000 block of Fond Du Lac Drive, Bloomington, Hammond’s husband asked for a divorce. Hammond asked if she could grab her cigarettes and phone before going to the police department, Lawson said.

In a factual basis statement, Lawson said Hammond could not drive her children to school at that time because her car wouldn’t start due to a breathalyzer ignition device.

Hammond went inside her house after the car did not start, and when she returned, one of her children said they heard the fire alarm, Lawson said.

She was charged with knowingly starting a fire when she knew people were present. Officials said that the fire began at the foot of a bed in her bedroom, Lawson said.


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