Woman Sentenced in Connection with March 2021 Residential Arson

Published on August 21, 2023

Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll, Chief of Detectives Robert McNally, and Wharton Borough Police Chief Dave Young announce that Shonette St. Clair, age 46, formerly of Branchburg NJ, has been sentenced to an aggregate 11 years in New Jersey State Prison.

On June 7, 2023, a Morris County jury found St. Clair guilty of a number of crimes, following a six-day trial.  Specifically, St. Clair was found guilty of second-degree Aggravated Arson (two counts), second degree Attempt to Cause Widespread Injury or Damage, and disorderly persons Simple Assault.  The jury found St. Clair not guilty of fourth degree Criminal Mischief.

Evidence at trial established that on March 8, 2021, emergency first responders, including the Wharton Borough Police Department and Mine Hill Fire Department, were dispatched to a residential structure fire on Joseph Lane in Mine Hill.  Upon arrival, they located an active fire in a multi-unit townhome structure.  One of the residents, who reported having escaped through a window, was located outside the unit.  The resident was transported to the hospital for medical treatment, including smoke inhalation.  After the fire was extinguished, investigators determined cause of the fire to be incendiary and identified four points of origin on the exterior of the residence.  Shonette St. Clair was later identified as a suspect and subsequent investigation revealed her to have been in the area of the residence at the time of the fire.

On August 11, 2023, the Honorable Ralph E. Amirata, J.S.C. sentenced St. Clair, imposing an aggregate term of 11 years in New Jersey State Prison.  The first six years of the sentence are subject to the parole ineligibility terms of the No Early Release Act.

Prosecutor Carroll credited the Trial Team of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Kelly Sandler, Assistant Prosecutor Kyle Herda and MCPO Detective Supervisor Luis Goncalves.  The Prosecutor would like to thank and acknowledge the agencies that participated in the investigation which led to the successful prosecution, including the Wharton Borough Police Department, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, the Branchburg Police Department, the New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Mine Hill Fire Department, and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Arson and Environmental Crimes Unit. 

Press inquiries concerning this release should be directed to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office at [email protected]

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