Chattanooga man sentenced to decade in prison for setting fire to home with girlfriend inside

Chattanooga Fire Department / Chattanooga firefighter are seen at a house fire on the 2100 block of Allin Street on June 3, 2022. Van Keith III, 45, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated domestic assault and arson after setting the fire with his girlfriend inside.
Chattanooga Fire Department / Chattanooga firefighter are seen at a house fire on the 2100 block of Allin Street on June 3, 2022. Van Keith III, 45, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated domestic assault and arson after setting the fire with his girlfriend inside.

A Chattanooga man was sentenced to a decade in prison for setting a house on fire with his girlfriend inside.

Van Edward Keith III, 45, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated domestic assault and arson, Chattanooga Fire Department spokesperson Lindsey Rogers said in a Thursday news release.

Keith was facing an aggravated arson charge, which carries a sentence of up to 60 years in prison, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of arson as part of an agreement with state prosecutors, according to the Hamilton County Criminal Court records.


"The victim told investigators that she was pleased with the outcome of the case and eager to move on after her terrifying ordeal," Rogers said.

(READ MORE: Grundy woman charged with arson in fire at home occupied by son and dog)

Keith beat his girlfriend so severely June 3, 2022, that she was unable to walk, the release said. The assault happened at a home on the 2100 block of Allin Street.

  photo  Hamilton County Sheriff's Office / Van Keith III, 45, pleaded guilty Tuesday to aggravated domestic assault and arson.
 
 

"He then set the house on fire with her still inside and left as the structure burned," the release said.

The woman, who was suffering from compound fractures, managed to pull herself out of the burning home, the release said. She screamed for help, and neighbors came outside to assist her and called 911.

Chattanooga firefighters responded to the scene at 5:45 a.m. They found smoke coming from the windows and front and back doors of the home.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga-area woman sentenced to 18 months for COVID unemployment fraud)

Crews were able to put the fire out. There was damage to the kitchen and front living room area along with smoke damage throughout the house, the release said.

"The victim was taken to the hospital to be treated for her injuries, and she faced a long recovery process," the release said.

Chattanooga Fire Department investigators identified Keith as the suspect. He was arrested June 9, 2022.

Contact Sofia Saric at ssaric@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.


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