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Woman gets probation for burning ancient cypress

  • Associated Press
  • June 4, 2014 - 9:05 PM

SANFORD, Fla. — A central Florida woman accused of setting a fire that burned down what was thought to be one of the world's oldest cypress trees has been sentenced to five years of probation.

The Orlando Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1kzooDL) that 26-year-old Sara Barnes entered a no contest plea Wednesday in Seminole County Court. A judge adjudicated her guilty of unlawful burning of lands, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. She would go to prison if she violates probation.

The tree, dubbed "The Senator," burned down in Big Tree Park in January 2012. It was estimated to be 3,500 years old.

Two witnesses identified Barnes as the person who started the fire.

Barnes told investigators she set the fire while trying to use illegal drugs.

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