Port Angeles woman sentenced for setting fire to her apartment

Fire destroyed two units at the Serenity House of Clallam County

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles woman has been sentenced to 90 days in jail with credit for time served after pleading guilty to setting fire to her apartment.

Denise K. Kovacevic, 41, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of first-degree reckless burning in connection with a March 29, 2019, fire at the Evergreen Family Village in west Port Angeles.

The fire destroyed two units at the Serenity House of Clallam County fourplex and damaged a third, leaving three families temporarily homeless, Port Angeles police said.

No one was injured, police said.

Kovacevic was originally charged in Clallam County Superior Court with one count of first-degree arson.

Investigators said Kovacevic used a lighter to set fire to a mattress in her unit before leaving the apartment.

The Port Angeles Fire Department responded to the blaze at 9:10 a.m. and declared it under control at 9:28 a.m., court papers said.

Kovacevic was arrested less than three hours later at a family member’s home, police said.

Police said that Kovacevic suffered a traumatic brain injury in a fall from a zipline and that her symptoms had escalated prior to the fire.

In an April 2019 report, the state Office of Forensic Mental Health Services determined that Kovacevic lacked the capacity to understand the proceedings against her or to assist in her own defense.

Kovacevic had her competency restored at Western State Hospital and was deemed competent to stand trial last July, court papers said.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brent Basden imposed the sentence Tuesday as recommended by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steve Johnson and defense attorney John Hayden.

A restitution hearing was set for July 24.

Kovacevic, who had no prior criminal history, will be on community custody for one year. She was ordered to pay $640 in fines.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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