ALBIA — Jury selection is slated to begin today at the Monroe County Courthouse, where a Centerville woman will be tried on murder and arson charges this week.
Selections were slated to be underway at 9 a.m. in Albia. Once the jury is selected and seated, the trial will begin against Barbara Lee Pasa, 47, of Centerville.
Authorities charged Pasa last year with first-degree murder and first-degree arson. If convicted, she faces life in prison for the murder charge and an arson conviction is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
On May 5, 2018, responders were called to 828 S. Park Ave. in Centerville, where Pasa and her husband Timothy Pasa lived, for a residential fire.
Police said Pasa was seen leaving the residence at 7:21 a.m. that morning. A call reporting smoke coming from the residence to the Centerville Law Center was recorded at approximately 7:30 a.m.
Firefighters battled the blaze and pulled a body later identified as Timothy Pasa from the structure. A firefighter was injured while fighting the blaze and transported to MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center by air ambulance.
Thirteen days later, on May 13, 2018, local police charged Pasa, saying she killed Timothy Pasa and then set their home on fire.
A court filing from Centerville Police Chief Tom Demry said that an investigation determined the fire was started on the bed near the body of Timothy Pasa.
An autopsy, the filings said, did not show that Timothy Pasa had inhaled any smoke and that there was no natural reason for his death identified. Though toxicology testing was still ongoing at the time, the filing read.
Authorities said Pasa had taken a $200,000 life insurance policy on Timothy Pasa, and that the two were in the initial stages of a divorce.
Police also said that Timothy Pasa reported told family members he was concerned that Pasa was poisoning him.
The trial was originally slated to occur in Centerville, but a judge in April this approved Pasa’s request to move the trial to Monroe County. The judge did so due to a relative of Timothy Pasa working in the Clerk of Court’s office in Appanoose County.
“I’ve got some reservation about having the trial here just given the appearance of impropriety,” Judge Shawn Showers said in April. “I feel a responsibility to promote public confidence in the judiciary.”
Once it begins, the trial is expected to last about 10 days.
Editor’s Note: The Daily Iowegian will be reporting on the trial from Albia each day at www.dailyiowegian.com or in each day’s print edition.