Woman who police say faked a beating, store burning on trial this week

The trial for Claudette Hulsey, 47, the owner accused of setting fire to the Jack B. Nimble Children's Clothing Store and lying about a robbery, started Monday afternoon, in Darlington County.

She's charged with Arson/ Burning Personal Property to Defraud Insurer, Presenting False Claim for Insurance Payment, Making False Insurance Claim to Obtain Benefits for Fire Loss, and Arson/Third degree.

Jurors were chosen Monday morning.

Before the trial began, Hulsey's attorney asked Judge Thomas Cooper for a change of venue, saying the jurors were exposed to pre-trial publicity.

Judge Cooper denied that request, saying pretrial publicity won't impact the jury's decision.

Testimony continued Thursday and Hulsey's attorney says his client had bruises on her body and was found half naked in the store by police.

Hulsey set fire to the Jack B. Nimble store on January 26, 2011, according to arrest warrants. She is also accused of lying about two men robbing and assaulting her before setting the fire and leaving her to die.

The warrant states Hulsey made conflicting statements during the investigation and that her financial records and medical reports were not consistent with her statements to investigators.

Hulsey's report of the crime led many working in the downtown Hartsville area to fear for their safety.

Hartsville police also stepped up patrols in the area and released sketches of possible witnesses to the crime.

The Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce offered a reward of more than $20,000 for information leading to an arrest.

If convicted, Hulsey faces up to 20 years in prison.