Andrews woman sentenced to jail in connection in death of her son

A mother will put their life on the line to protect their child. If they found out their child has suddenly died, most mothers would feel devastated by this loss. While it is true most mothers do this, prosecutors said Marissa Cohens did neither.

“A mom is somebody who is supposed to be there for you,” Assistant Solicitor Liz Smith told a Georgetown County jury on Tuesday. Smith and Prosecutor Alicia Richardson opened the trial on Monday, Jan 6 in their case against the defendant Cohens in her trial.

After four days of trial, Marissa Cohens was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being found guilty on charges of arson, criminal conspiracy and unlawful neglect of a child. The jury deliberated for over 30 minutes on Thursday evening, Jan.9, to find Cohens,45, guilty on all three charges after listening to countless testimonies from witnesses over the past three days by the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office. She was also charged with murder, but the state decided not to pursue the charge.

A previous report from the Solicitor’s Office states that on March 29, 2014, around 1 a.m., deputies responded to a report of a mobile home fire at 10 James Drive in Andrews. Upon arrival and close inspection, they also found the body of 12-year-old Dave Sycience Coombs, Cohen’s son.

STATE’S OPENING

Dave Sycience Coombs -pronounced “science”- was known by his middle name and was a good kid who everybody liked, Smith said. Coombs had moved with his family out of the mobile home and into a nearby apartment on Arbor Place. Around 7 p.m. that night, Sycience went to a party at Andrews Recreation Center and left hours later.

Combs walked to the home of a friend, Ricky Nelson, after the party was over. Coombs told Nelson that he was going home to get some clothes but never came back as he fell asleep in the trailer. Nelson was the first witness called by the state.

“He told me he was going to get clothes and never returned,” Nelson said from the witness stand.

The fire was set without Cohen or anyone knowing Coombs was inside. Deputy Coroner Chase Ridgeway and medical professionals said he died of smoke inhalation. Smith said that Collins didn’t look for her son within the hour.

STATE’S WITNESSES

Investigators said that while Coombs was away, Cohen planned with others to destroy her trailer in a lucrative scheme.

After the incident, Georgetown Sheriff’s Office and SLED investigators determined the fire was deliberately set. Georgetown County Sheriff’s deputy Garrett stated that he noticed the fire had started at the opposite end of the trailer from the kitchen and noticed there were a lot of kerosene heaters in the trailer. A witness testified during the trial that Cohen had purchased kerosene from her store on the day of the fire. Upon inspection, it was found that her new apartment complex had central heat and air conditioning, therefore no need for kerosene.

During the investigation, Cohen also failed to cooperate with law enforcement and established residency in Kentucky after the incident. They found she also purchased renters’ insurance for the trailer a month before the incident and moved her belongings into storage.

Fire investigators said they found multiple kerosene and electrical heaters in the apartment with four different areas where accelerant had been poured on the floor.

Deputy Garrett said that his officers reported that Cohen was behaving strangely after finding out her son died. During the trial, multiple witnesses said that Cohen had showed no emotion when she found out her son was in the house fire. Loretta Smith, Cohen’s aunt, said she arrived at the house where Cohen and others were present when they found Coomb’s body from the wreckage. She said Cohen’s demeanor during the incident was “strange.”

“She had no reaction or nothing,” Smith said.

She said that when the detective told her and Cohen that her son was dead in the fire she did not cry. Countless witnesses called by the Solicitor’s Court testified the same response that Cohen showed no emotions when she was told her son had died.

“There was no remorse or tears. Nothing. She got her phone out and made a call,” Smith said. Smith admits hearing her talking to Randy Collins over the phone.

According to testimonies, Cohen kept repeatedly saying on the phone that her son “wasn’t supposed to be there” in the home.

STATE’S EVIDENCE

Randy Collins, Coombs’ uncle, was convicted in Nov.2018 and sentenced to 30 years in prison for conspiracy and first-degree arson in connection with the crime. He said that she offered him $5,000 to burn down her mobile home to collect the $25,000 insurance money. He first denied her request but later accepted the deal.

Collins attempts he told his nephew, James Miller, about the offer and they went that night to set the house on fire but changed their minds. In April 2015, Devon Combs, Sycience Comb’s older brother, shot and killed Miller in Andrews and was found guilty in 2017 to voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Devon told the courts at his sentencing that he shot and killed Miller in retaliation for Miller killed his little brother.

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