PROVO — A Provo woman accused of starting an apartment fire that killed two women and injured another was found competent to stand trial Wednesday.
Fourth District Judge Lynn Davis determined that Yvette Kimber, 45, is competent to proceed toward trial on two counts of murder and one count of aggravated arson, all first-degree felonies, in connection with the March 14 blaze.
Karen Murray and Catherine Crane were killed and another woman hospitalized following the fire, which took place at the Boulders Apartments, 750 S. 650 West. Fellow residents were at Wednesday's hearing armed with photos of Murray, whom they described as "quiet, with the most gorgeous, contagious smile."
"She just always had a positive influence," said Boulders resident Monica Pike.
But Pike also said Kimber had threatened Murray when Murray asked Kimber to stop smoking near her home.
"Yvette stated, 'You want to see smoke (expletive)? You'll see smoke,' " Pike recounted. "(Kimber) knew what she was doing."
Pike said she believes Kimber is a "very angry person."
"She has issues that need to be dealt with," Pike said. "But she needs to be held accountable for her behavior."
Kimber initially told police she dropped a cigarette while smoking and "did not know" if she had started the fire intentionally in an attempt to kill herself.
Kimber was charged with manslaughter, but the charges were increased to murder after an investigation showed a number of accelerants may have been used in the fire, according to police. Kimber allegedly made several attempts to purposely set her apartment on fire. When she finally succeeded, she realized she had made a mistake, jail records state, but by then it was too late.
Each charge against Kimber carries a possible penalty of life in prison.
And prison time is what Linda Powell, another Boulders resident and former neighbor to Kimber, hopes to see Kimber receive.
"We just have to keep coming to court and support our friends and the lady who survived the fire and hope we can be a help to (Kimber) being sent to prison so she has time to think about what she's done and the people she's hurt," Powell said.2 comments on this story
Powell said she was one of many who made attempts to save Murray. As one resident pounded on Murray's door, Powell tried to call her.
"It sounded like she answered the phone, but she wasn't there," Powell said. "I saw her in the window and then she was gone. We thought she got out. … It was horrifying."
Attorneys for Kimber said they will request a preliminary hearing when they meet for a scheduling conference June 8.