ATTLEBORO — The Wheaton College senior charged with setting a half-dozen fires in her dorm was sent to a Boston hospital for an emergency psychiatric evaluation a few weeks before her arrest this month, according to testimony Tuesday.
Janelys Pimentel, 22, of Roslindale, was arrested six hours after a 3:30 a.m. fire on Feb. 7, and two weeks after she was sent to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, her mother, Jane Troncoso, testified in Attleboro District Court.
Pimentel, who had no prior arrests and had been held without bail since Feb. 7, was released from custody on probation officer’s surety after a dangerousness hearing.
Judge Daniel O’Shea found her to be a danger but ordered her placed under home confinement and monitored by a GPS bracelet. He also set other conditions, including obtaining a mental health evaluation and psychiatric treatment.
Pimentel faces a dozen charges including two counts of arson.
During her testimony, Troncoso also said the emergency psychiatric evaluation at Beth Israel came three months after two men put guns to Pimentel’s head and tied her up with rags during a home invasion at her home.
Troncoso said she never knew about the emergency psychiatric evaluation or medication prescribed for her daughter until after she was arrested. She said she found the medical records in her daughter’s dorm room when she went to the Norton college to retrieve Pimentel’s personal belongings.
The reason for the evaluation and the circumstances around it were unclear.
The evaluation was not disclosed during a hearing last week when a state forensic psychologist, who interviewed Pimentel at the courthouse, found her competent to stand trial. The doctor said she suffered from post-traumatic stress from the home invasion but he found no evidence of mental illness or defect.
Troncoso said her daughter came home from college to visit and they talked or texted frequently by phone, but her daughter’s behavior changed after the home invasion. She said her daughter remained at college more often and their exchanges were not as frequent.
Troncoso said she believed her daughter did not want to come home because “she probably thought something else was going to happen.” She said she wanted her daughter to get some help but she said she did not need it.
The fires Pimentel is charged with began in November of last year while the home invasion occurred in October. Troncoso said her daughter was always a good student and gave her no problems at home. She said she has two other children, ages 15 and 17.
Assistant District Attorney Natasha Azevedo submitted police reports by Norton detectives Nicholas Precourt, Jesse Winters and Charles Turcotte and Wheaton public safety officials in addition to photographic evidence, but called no witnesses.
She argued Pimentel was a danger to the public because she was a residential adviser, or RA, on her floor who was “the last person that was suspected” during an extensive police investigation in which other suspects were considered and ruled out.
The prosecutor said Pimentel only admitted to setting the fires after being confronted with evidence from a surveillance camera that allegedly captured her setting fire to a paper in a bubbler near her room.
Noting that the fires were all set during the early morning hours when students were asleep and that some of the fires caused damage, Azevedo said, “It doesn’t get any more dangerous than these kinds of offenses.”
But Pimentel’s lawyer, Robert Jubinville of Milton, argued his client had a 3.0 or higher grade point average during her college career and has an interview to be accepted for a master’s degree program at another college.
He said the fires, although serious, were more of an “outcry for help” and that the incidents were “an aberration in the young lady’s life.” Jubinville said home confinement and GPS monitoring would ensure the safety of the public.
In announcing his ruling, O’Shea said the law required that he consider whether there are less restrictive means to ensure public safety other than jail. Under the terms of Pimentel’s release, she will not be able to go near Wheaton College.
The case was continued to March 21 for a pretrial conference.