Piedmont man pleads guilty to setting woman on fire - FOX Carolina 21

Piedmont man pleads guilty to setting woman on fire

Posted: Updated: April 8, 2013 03:48 PM
Harold Watts appears in a Greenville County courtroom with his attorney where he pleaded guilty. (Apr. 8, 2013/FOX Carolina) Harold Watts appears in a Greenville County courtroom with his attorney where he pleaded guilty. (Apr. 8, 2013/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A Piedmont man pleaded guilty in court on Monday to breaking into a woman's house and setting her on fire in an attempt to kill her in 2011.

Harold Watts, 52, was arrested on charges of first-degree burglary and attempted murder in connection with the Dec. 3, 2011 attack on Mary Darnell at her West Georgia Road home.

Investigators said Watts doused Darnell with gasoline, set her on fire and left her for dead. The burns covered more than 80 percent of her body.

Greenville County deputies said Darnell's neighbor called 911 around 3 a.m., telling deputies he found her screaming, covered in flames, and running through the backyard.

Darnell spoke with FOX Carolina in 2012 when she said Watts was an acquaintance. Neighbors said Watts and Darnell had been in a relationship, but that Darnell tried to break it off for many months.

Minutes after a jury was selected for Watts' trial on Monday, he pleaded guilty.

Darnell was in court for the hearing and visibly upset when the neighbor's 911 call was played.

"That's something that no one should have to go through," Darnell's friend Cheryl Garrettson said. "And it was very hard for all of us to have to sit there and listen to that. But I'm glad that they played it so that the judge, the judge needed to hear it, and I think he needed to hear it to, to remind him of what he did."

Watts was sentenced to 35 years for the burglary charge and 30 years for the attempted murder charge, to be served concurrently for a 35-year sentence.

NOTE: On Monday, FOX Carolina was informed by the court that Watts' sentences would be served consecutively, which was incorrect. We apologize for the error.

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