Trial begins for accused Tacoma serial arsonist

The trial began Monday for Sarah Jane Ramey, the woman accused of a deadly 27-day arson spree in Tacoma in 2021 and 2022.

The prosecution's opening statements painted Ramey as a liar, a fraudster and a murderer with no conscience. The state claims they have substantial evidence against Ramey — video, DNA, physical evidence and witness testimony to link Sarah Ramey to the month-long arson spree in Tacoma. Investigators say she even left a membership card with her name on it at one of the fires.

Some of the homes set on fire had children inside, and one of the fires claimed the life of 83-year-old James Elliott.

Investigators say Ramey was found with James Elliott's — and his deceased wife’s — checkbooks. She’s also accused of using a child's wallet she stole from one of the fires, as well as making fraudelent purchases while impersonating a Metro Parks employee.

The state says the evidence will speak for itself.

"In her vehicle, they found gasoline, a Starbucks bottle that matched the fire at South 54th Street, other items matching to Metro Parks. But in her glove box, they found a checkbook, and the name on that checkbook was James Elliott," said prosecutor Derek Keenan.

However, the defense says there are gaps in the state’s case.

"This investigation was suspect-driven, it was driven with an assumption of guilt in mind," argued defense attorney Mary K. High.

Ramey’s defense even conceded in their opening statements that she "may be guilty of some crimes" — but not all of them.

"We may agree on, actually, some of the charges, but I will let you know we will not agree on the charges of murder," said High.

Ramey could be looking at life in prison if convicted on all counts.

On Monday, Elliott's son Dan took the stand as a witness.


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According to records obtained by FOX 13 News, the state as more than 350 witnesses listed. The defense has only two.