ASU Student Who Torched Her Ex's House Pleads Guilty to Felony Arson

Claudia Rose Drinnan (shown here in a booking photo).
Claudia Rose Drinnan (shown here in a booking photo).

An Arizona State University sorority sister who torched her ex-boyfriend's condo in May has entered a guilty plea that will put her behind bars for six months.

Claudia Rose Drinnan, 21, broke into the home near Hardy Drive and Southern Avenue about 2 a.m. on May 14, climbing into her ex-boyfriend's room through a window she smashed. 

He wasn't home at the time, but one of three roommates texted him, saying Drinnan had broken in and was upset. The roommates evacuated the place after smelling smoke before the building went up in flames. Drinnan was spotted outside "just staring at the fire," according to one witness.

She reportedly told a witness that her ex had cheated on her.

The ASU student fled the scene, but was soon arrested. She admitted to breaking into the house and "lighting her ex-boyfriend's clothes on fire," court records state. 

Drinnan was jailed for a few days before her released on bail.  She was ordered to remain under house arrest with electronic monitoring.

In a motion asking a judge to keep her under house arrest, a prosecutor wrote that "the defendant's strange behavior before, during, and after she set the fire [causes the state to have] concerns regarding [her] mental health and the danger she presents to the community."

The ex-boyfriend's roommates also opposed easing Drinnan's release conditions, stating that they were concerned for their safety. She was allowed to leave her home to work at her waitress job and attend job interviews.

Although she initially pleaded not guilty, Drinnan admitted to one count of felony arson in a plea agreement signed in late October. In the deal, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office agreed to drop additional charges of burglary, criminal damage, and endangerment, plus the allegation that the crime was "dangerous," which could have meant prison time. In return, Drinnan will receive a six-month jail sentence and a term of supervised probation.

She also agreed to pay restitution for the damage the fire caused. The full cost of the damages is still unclear, but Drinnan must pay at least $140,000 and possibly more, up to a maximum of $500,000.

Drinnan's private attorney didn't return a call seeking comment.

Acceptance of the plea agreement was deferred until Drinnan's sentencing hearing, now scheduled in Maricopa County Superior Court for January 8. If a judge decides not to accept the plea deal, Drinnan could be sentenced to several years in prison.

ASU's student directory doesn't list Drinnan as a student currently.

UPDATE: January 13 — Drinnan had her sentencing hearing as scheduled and was given six months in jail and four years of supervised probation.


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