Man accused of setting woman on fire ruled competent for trial

Brenda Scott died nearly a month after critical injuries.

A man accused of setting a woman on fire in a Fairfield Twp. home last month has been declared competent to stand trial. And with the death of Brenda Scott, the charge could be murder.

Robbi Robinson was back in court Thursday for a competency evaluation hearing after his arrest May 11 as he attempted to leave the scene on Arroyo Ridge Court. He is currently charged with attempted aggravated murder, felonious assault and aggravated arson.

At his arraignment earlier this month, defense attorney David Brewer questioned his competency and requested a psychological evaluation. At Thursday’s hearing, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Keith Spaeth found him competent based on the forensic report.

Since the death of the 50-year-old Liberty Twp. woman, the case will be presented again to a grand jury. Police say Scott was hit in the face, doused with an accelerant and jumped from the second story of the home after becoming engulfed in flames.

One charge considered for Robinson will be aggravated murder with a death penalty specification, according to prosecutors.

Police and prosecutors say Scott was assaulted before being set on fire by the suspect. Robinson, 23, is being held in the Butler County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.

Scott was found on fire in her backyard by a neighbor, who called 911. Police arrested Robinson after he was caught running from the home.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said the case will be presented to a grand jury for consideration of murder charges. The investigative evidence indicates an aggravated murder charge with specification for the death penalty if convicted could be one of those charges.

Gmoser pointed to elements of the crime that meet the death specification, including prior calculation alleging Scott was splashed with an accelerant in an upstairs bedroom and punched in the face by Robinson.

Brewer said the case is essentially in a holding pattern until it is represented to a grand jury. If a murder charge is returned, Robinson may receive additional evaluations an a not guilty by reason of insanity charge is possible.

Robinson is scheduled to be back in court July 12.

The arraignment hearing shed light on some of case details.

Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Katie Pridemore requested the judge set a high bond, outlining the trauma Scott suffered that included two teeth being knocked out by the roots in addition to the burns and injuries from jumping out a second floor window.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

At the time of the arrest, Robinson was possibly having “suicidal ideations”, and while he has been in the Butler County Jail, phone calls to family indicate he tried to reach out to the victim, Pridemore said.

In jail-monitored phone calls made while the victim was still living, Robinson said he “wants someone to get into the hospital room, talk to the victim, talk her out of prosecuting, have her drop the charges ...” Pridemore said.

If out on bond, Pridemore said she believed he would have tried to have access to the victim “to harm her, to harass her and to intimidate her.”

Scott was in a bedroom of the home on Arroyo Ridge Court about 10:25 a.m. May 11 when she was hit in the face. She was then splashed with an accelerant and set on fire, according to McCroskey and court documents.

The neighbor called 911 and jumped a fence to help the woman.

“I see a little fire next to her and she is laying in the backyard,” the man told the dispatcher. “She is talking to me. She is hurt bad.”

The woman can be heard in the background saying, ”he set me on fire.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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