A Surry County woman was convicted last month of involuntary manslaughter in the death of her 13-year-old son in a house fire.
Maria Deneane Kidd, 55, entered what is known as an Alford plea to involuntary manslaughter on Jan. 16 in Surry Superior Court. In an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict if the case had gone to trial.
A prosecutor voluntarily dismissed other charges against Kidd — insurance fraud, making a false statement and negligent child abuse, inflicting serious bodily injury.
Judge Angela Puckett of Surry Superior Court gave Kidd a suspended prison sentence of one year and seven months to two years and eight months. Kidd will have to serve an active sentence of eight months in jail. After her release, she will be placed on three years of supervised probation, according to online court records.
William Kidd, 13, died in a house fire at 1695 CC Camp Road on Jan. 27, 2018. Firefighters found William Kidd’s body in the home. William, an autistic teenager, was a student in the exceptional classroom through Elkin Middle School.
Michael A. Muskus, the homicide and arson prosecutor for the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.
Clark Fischer, the attorney for Maria Kidd, said Wednesday that the fire started in an oil heater in the living room and there was no evidence that Kidd deliberately set the fire. The basis for the involuntary manslaughter charge was that the house was extremely cluttered, making it a fire hazard, Fischer said.
According to a search warrant, firefighters found that the house was full of personal items and that they blocked exits from the house’s living room, where William’s body was found.
Fischer said nothing the court could do would be more punishment for Kidd than the loss of her child that “she loved very much and had worked hard to help him with all his difficulties.”
Fischer said part of the plea arrangement was that Muskus would dismiss the other charges in exchange for Kidd’s guilty plea to the involuntary manslaughter charge.
Maria Kidd called 911 at 5:21 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2018, to say that her home was on fire. She told the dispatcher that William was still inside and she could not get to him.
Local firefighters came to the house and put the fire out in about 40 minutes, according to a search warrant. When firefighters got into the house, they discovered William’s body in the living room.
Investigators concluded that Maria Kidd’s actions during the fire directly caused the death of her son, the Surry County Sheriff’s Office said. The sheriff’s office also said that investigators determined that the living conditions in the home posed a substantial risk of injury for William and also contributed to how rapidly the fire spread.
An arrest warrant for insurance fraud alleged that Kidd defrauded Farm Bureau Insurance from Jan. 27 to March 12 of 2018 by presenting a claim for payment under a homeowner’s insurance policy even though the policy had been cancelled and that the policy was fraudulently procured.
Kidd was also accused of making a false or fraudulent statement in June 2017 on her application for insurance with Farm Bureau Insurance, according to another arrest warrant. Kidd is alleged to have falsely told the Farm Bureau that no other entities had ownership interest in her home and that Kidd did not have any previous judgments, repossession, collections and other credit problems.
The insurance fraud charges and the fire were related, but Patty McQuillan, a spokeswoman for the SBI, declined in 2018 to elaborate.