In January of this year, four people were sleeping inside a Saginaw rental home located at 703 S. Michigan when the home caught on fire. The home was separated into five apartments; tenants were said to have been present in three of those apartments when the blaze began. All escaped without injuries, although it was not known at the time how the fire started. Firefighters fought hard, as the high winds and cold temperatures that night caused the fire to spread rapidly, according to Saginaw Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Filary.
On Friday April 19, 33-year-old Jeff McKenna was charged with arson in the fire, which gutted the inside of the home resulting in about $70,000 worth of damage according to a news article at Mlive.com. McKenna was reportedly at the Saginaw County Jail for an offense which was not related to the fire when officers served the arrest warrant charging him with arson.
On Monday April 22, McKenna was arraigned before Saginaw County District Judge A.T. Frank, who entered a not guilty plea on behalf of McKenna. The judge also ordered the suspect held on a $75,000 bond. He will remain incarcerated until he goes before Frank at his preliminary hearing scheduled for May 1.
Deputy Fire Marshal Ralph Martin stated that Michigan State Police detectives worked with fire investigators in bringing charges against the suspect; a resident who awoke after smelling smoke is also said to have cooperated.
News reports do not reveal a possible motive for the crime.
As Michigan arson lawyers know, arson is a serious criminal offense which will leave the accused facing severe criminal penalties if convicted; in fact, it is a 20-year felony offense. While in this case none of the residents of the home were injured, McKenna would likely be facing far more serious charges if anyone had been seriously injured or if lives were lost.
If you have been charged with arson or any serious or violent crime, it is important that you seek legal guidance at once to protect your legal rights and future. Contact a skilled and aggressive Michigan criminal defense attorney immediately.