Man gets life sentence for stabbing death of Middletown mother, setting her house on fire

A Middletown man will spend the rest of his life in prison after admitting to stabbing a woman to death and setting her house on fire last month.

Anson Pride, 41, was charged with aggravated murder, felonious assault, aggravated arson, aggravated burglary and tampering with evidence in the Aug. 14 death of death of Jamaka Calhoun on Lind Street.

Pride pleaded guilty Wednesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court to aggravated murder and aggravated arson, both with specifications that he is a repeat violent offender.

Judge Keith Spaeth then sentenced Pride to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Middletown police said the 28-year-old mother appeared to be protecting herself in an altercation with Pride, who police suspect was breaking into houses in the neighborhood.

Calhoun was pulled from her burning house and died at the scene. She died from stab wounds, and her death was ruled a homicide, according to the Butler County Coroner’s Office.

Police initially believed Calhoun was pregnant at the time of her death, the but the autopsy revealed she was not, according to the coroner’s office.

Her young daughter escaped without injuries and ran to a neighboring house for help.

Pride’s court-appointed attorneys, Morgan Kohler and Anna Mallory, entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea on Pride’s behalf during arraignment last month and a hearing on his competence was scheduled for Thursday. He admitted guilt before that hearing.

Pride was being held without bond. Spaeth denied bond during arraignment at the request of the prosecution. It is an unusual request that is often reserved for those who face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said Pride’s criminal past is one reason for the request.

“We try to stay out of a lot of discussion about bond issues … but in this particular case you have a repeat violent offender issue because this fellow had not been out of prison all that long and all of a sudden here he is stabbing a woman and presumptively attempting to murder a child in the process by means of fire,” Gmoser said. “So I am permitted at that point for bond purposes to say the evidence is serious and evidence is great and we are requesting no bond be issued because of the danger to society.”

Pride was released from prison on Aug. 9 after serving a sentence for burglary and aggravated burglary, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction.

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