Home Crime Man who Set Woman Ablaze Indicted by Anderson County Grand Jury

Man who Set Woman Ablaze Indicted by Anderson County Grand Jury

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Suspect True Billed on Trio of First Degree Felonies

By Will Johnson and Sarah Naron
Messenger Reporters

PALESTINE – A Palestine man accused of robbing a convenience store where he bound two women and set one on fire was indicted on Wednesday of this past week by an Anderson County Grand Jury.

According to a statement from Anderson County Criminal District Attorney Allyson Mitchell, “Robert Lawrence Thompson, 40, was indicted by an Anderson County Grand Jury on March 13, 2019, for two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of arson.”

“Aggravated robbery and arson – as indicted,” she continued, “are first degree felonies with a punishment range of five years to 99 years or life in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ).”

Given the facts of the case, Mitchell indicated the charges of aggravated robbery and arson were the most appropriate charges as they carried the heaviest penalty. Under the law, she explained, attempted murder is considered a second degree felony which is punishable by term of between two and 20 years in TDCJ.

Thompson is currently being held in the Anderson County Jail on bonds totaling $4 million.

As previously reported, the Palestine Police Department received a call at approximately 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 21 regarding the robbery-at-gunpoint of two females inside of the Pitt Stop gas station, located at 1221 Link St.

At the time, Community Liaison for the Palestine Police Department Michele Herbert-Reyes stated the suspect – later identified as Thompson – entered the convenience and demanded all of the money from store’s cash register.

The community liaison further stated Thompson demanded the two females – a clerk and a customer – sit on the floor, where he bound them with duct tape.

Video surveillance, Herbert-Reyes explained, showed Thompson douse the two females with lighter fluid. He then set the customer – identified as Della Witt-Denizeri – on fire.

After taking approximately $800from the register, Thompson fled the scene and drove north on Hwy. 155 in a white Chevy vehicle.

Later that same afternoon – at approximately 5 p.m. – Thompson was apprehended at JJ’s Fast Stop, located at 1200 E. Palestine Ave.

Following Thompson’s arrest, Palestine Police Chief Andy Harvey commented, “I am proud of our officers and detectives, who worked nonstop and seamlessly to get a violent offender off our streets.”

The police chief also expressed “… a special thank you to our law enforcement partners, including DPS and our Constable (James) Muniz, Pct. 4.”

The store customer – Witt-Denizeri – suffered burns to her head, face and neck. Initially, she was transported to Palestine Regional Medical Center and then to the burn center at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. She has since returned home while she continues to recover from her injuries.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.