Melanie Botts has had five troubled years and numerous confrontations with police, one of them a potential suicide-by-cop situation. The 39-year-old resident of 64 Boston lane in Palm Coast was found guilty on several drug charges, including a felony, in 2016. Two years later she was found guilty of felony battery on a law enforcement officer. Last year she was found guilty of felony battery and was on probation for that when the latest incident, the gravest so far, took place on Dec. 6. According to her arrest report, she attempted to set either her ex-boyfriend or his home on on fire on Beth Lane in Palm Coast.
When deputies arrived at the property, a plastic object was burning in the front yard–a deputy doused it in water and put it out–and the smell of gasoline was in the house. The floor was slippery with obvious evidence of gasoline.
The 64-year-old alleged victim told deputies that Botts had poured gasoline in the house and tried to pour gasoline on him and light him up. She’d arrived at the house unannounced and started an argument when the man was getting ready to leave to get his son. He said she went into the garage, grabbed a can of gasoline, and poured it in the house, leaving a can on the counter that was burning (and left a mark). He said he somehow grabbed the can and threw it outside even as it was burning.
Botts’s arrest report notes that the alleged victim’s story was “very inconsistent.” Botts was not at the property when deputies arrived, nor did she come to her door at her own house, but 30 minutes after the incident on Beth Lane she called law enforcement regarding a separate issue. She was arrested on charges of battery, criminal mischief, arson, and probation violation and held at the county jail on $61,000 bond on all charges but the probation violation, on which she was being held without bond. The arson charge is a first-degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on conviction. Botts also faces drug-possession charges.
Last October she was arrested on a charge of violating a domestic injunction and making threats of violence, and was found guilty, serving seven weeks in jail. The incident involved the same man, who at the time had gone to Botts’s place of work at Outback to get her medication she’d been asking for. An argument ensued. He didn’t know why. He was rolling up his driver’s side window when Botts threw a beer bottle at him. The bottle shattered. She told police he’d pushed her and spat at her, so she took his beer bottle and threw it in his direction as he drove away. The injunction in place at the time protected the man’s 13-year-old son from Botts, but also stipulated that Botts was not allowed to threaten any member of the boy’s family. Since the man had felt threatened at the Outback incident, it led to an injunction violation charge, Botts’s arrest and eventual conviction on a plea on Nov. 3.
The probation violation applies to the 2020 felony battery conviction, when she was sentenced to three years’ probation. She had already violated probation twice before the Dec. 6 incident. The battery charge resulted from a Dec. 12, 2020 incident also involving the same man, at the same house that Botts allegedly attempted to burn down.
They had argued about bringing food into the bedroom and cigarettes he was supposed to buy her, she turned violent, and was arrested. It was her third conviction for battery. Judges are not usually lenient after multiple violations, and may, on that score alone, revoke probation and sentence the defendant to prison.
In 2019, Botts was involved in a more publicized incident when, in an argument with the same man, her then-boyfriend said she tried to stab him with a kitchen knife. Botts then threatened to shoot herself in the head when confronted with police. She was not armed. She had grabbed a knife in a separate incident involving the boyfriend’s son and the boyfriend–she threatened the boyfriend with the knife–then sat outside until sheriff’s deputies arrived. A potential suicide-by-cop situation developed as she taunted the cops and begged them to shoot her. She was tased and brought under control.
The alleged arson charge reflects a severe escalation of what until then had been a pattern of domestic violence in the same household. “This is an example of how a domestic dispute can quickly escalate into a more critical situation,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “I’m glad no one was hurt as this situation was, literally, extremely volatile. No relationship problem is worth escalating it to be arrested or losing your life. If you need help in a domestic situation call us or seek help through the Family Life Center before the situation becomes dire.”