Dayton restaurant owner could get early release after jailed for setting her own building on fire in 2009

DAYTON — Eva Christian, former owner of an Oregon District and Dayton Mall restaurant, was jailed in 2009 for setting her own business on fire and more than eight years later she may receive early release.

In an effort to collect insurance money, Christian set her Miami Twp. restaurant on fire Christmas Eve of 2009. She was later sentenced to nine years in prison with an expected release date of May 8, 2021.

However, on Friday Christian won an appeals-court ruling that could set her free sometime before that date, according to a report from the Dayton Daily News.

In 2012 Christian was convicted of five criminal counts following a two-week jury trial.

During the trial, prosecution witnesses testified that Christian conspired with two accomplices in the break-in of her home and in the restaurant vandalism.

She was originally found guilty on a first-degree felony criminal charge, but it was reduced in severity to a second-degree felony during one of the many appeals in the case.

Friday, the appeals court ruled that Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Barbara Gorman, improperly re-sentenced Christian to her nine-year sentence in 2012, reported the Dayton Daily News.

Prosecutors are reviewing the appeals court decision, said a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.

“Based on today’s split decision, the defendant will not be automatically released from the penitentiary but must be re-sentenced by the trial judge,” the spokeswoman said.

“We feel that the sentence the defendant received by the trial court was appropriate and justified. We will decide in the near future whether we will appeal today’s decision to the Supreme Court of Ohio.”

The current appeal is expected to take one year off of her nine-year sentence, according to the prosecutor’s office and Christian’s attorney.

However, Christian has been in state prison since June 7, 2012.

She is in the final year of her sentence and since she has essentially served her entire sentence Christian is up for release.

A re-sentencing hearing in Judge Gorman’s courtroom must take place before Christian is released.

“The war for Eva Christian’s release is finally over,” Brock Schoenlein, Christian’s court-appointed attorney told the Dayton Daily News Sunday.

“Eva will be released as quickly as she can be brought back to court.”

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