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Charges: Woman selling magazines started fires in yard after sales pitch turned down

A woman intentionally set two fires in front of a Salt Lake home and then tried to block a fire engine as it arrived after a resident declined to buy magazines she was selling door-to-door, according to charges filed Friday.
A woman intentionally set two fires in front of a Salt Lake home and then tried to block a fire engine as it arrived after a resident declined to buy magazines she was selling door-to-door, according to charges filed Friday.
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SALT LAKE CITY — A woman intentionally set two fires in front of a Salt Lake home and then tried to block a fire engine as it arrived after a resident declined to buy magazines she was selling door-to-door, according to charges filed Friday.

Aerica Velria-Latan Johnson, 19, is charged in 3rd District Court with lighting various items on fire Tuesday in front of a home in the area of 1400 East and Downington Avenue after her would-be customers told her they were "not interested in purchasing her magazines," court documents say.

Johnson is charged with aggravated arson, a first-degree felony; arson, interference with a public servant and interference with an arresting officer, all class B misdemeanors; and disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor.

Court documents say Johnson tried her pitch at the front door of a home with a woman who is a caretaker for a disabled resident. The woman declined to buy any magazines, at which point "Johnson became irate and began swearing at (her)," charges state.

Johnson then went to the driveway of the home and ignited dried leaves and sugar packets with a lighter, according to charging documents.

"Johnson then returned to the front door and lit a wreath attached to the door on fire using a … lighter, causing damage to the wreath, the front door, the doormat, and the brick and material surrounding the door," charges state.

Johnson walked away at that point and didn't alert anyone about the fire, charges state. The homeowner and his caretaker were still inside at the time, according to court documents.

A short time earlier, Johnson had gone to the door of another home in the neighborhood, where she "berated (a man) when he said he wasn't interested in purchasing her magazines," charges state. That man called 911 to report the fire outside his neighbor's home.

A Salt Lake police officer reported arriving on scene to find Johnson standing in the middle of the road, blocking a fire engine from getting to the fire, and trying to ignite her own hair.

"Johnson threw down her belonging(s) and took a fighting stance, claiming that she hated white people, that the police were not there to help her, and she was not going to comply," charges state.

Salt Lake City Fire Department investigators concluded both fires in front of the home had been intentionally set. A search of Johnson yielded a lighter, police reported.

Johnson currently has no known address, according to court documents. Jail records indicate she is originally from Texas. Charges say she traveled to Utah, where she was "participating in a traveling magazine sales organization," though the organization isn't named in court documents.

Johnson is currently being held in the Salt Lake County Jail.

Email: blockhart@deseretnews.com

Twitter: benlockhartnews