Virginia Beach mom accused of setting house fire, killing pets sentenced to six months behind bars

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The case of a Virginia Beach mother accused of setting her own home on fire and running away with her children is now closed.

Monica Lamping will serve six months behind bars for two animal torture charges.

Lamping ran away to an eco village for three days with her two children in January 2017. Police realized she was missing after a fire at her home; Lamping and her children were nowhere to be found.

Two pets, which belonged to her roommate, died in the fire.

Monica Lamping

Police originally charged her with arson and animal torture, but prosecutors were unable to prove that the fire was set intentionally. Lamping took an Alford Plea for the two animal torture charges earlier this year. The maximum sentence was 10 years.

Instead, the judge only sentenced Lamping to six months. Her attorney was hoping she wouldn't serve any time because of her mental health issues.

"We asked the court to not impose any period of incarceration; we didn’t think that that would benefit her," explained her attorney James Broccoletti. "I think the judge recognized the mental illness aspect that she had. I think we made it more significant than he felt it to be, but at the end of the day, he is the judge and we accept the verdict that he rendered."

During her sentencing hearing, Lamping's mental health was discussed at length. Witnesses testified that she is bi-polar and suffers from PTSD from past sexual assaults. Witnesses say she was not being treated for these conditions when she ran away.

Lamping's ex-husband spoke with News 3 after the proceeding. He says he knew she had some mental health issues but believes the whole truth about the night she ran away didn't come out in court.

"I understand the mental health of Monica has been questionable in the past, but in my mind and everything that I know from this, it’s my understanding that this was premeditated and she knew what she was doing," said Kevin Lamping. "That’s not something that you can just cover up with mental health illness and hide behind as a way to justify what you did."

Lamping's roommate, Courtney Bullock, says she was unaware of Lamping having any mental health issues. She blames the death of her husky puppy and car on Lamping.

"They were my fur babies, they were my babies. I was supposed to have them all the way until old age took them," said Bullock. "It wasn’t fair to them, and it wasn’t fair to me."

While six months is only a small portion of the sentence Lamping could have faced, Bullock says she feels justice has been served.

"I consider it justice; we got time," she explained. "I wanted to see her get some jail time, I’m not going to lie."

Lamping's six-month sentence begins immediately. She will not get any credit for any time previously served.

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