The case against a Wayne County man, accused of second degree arson in connection with a fire in the County Attorney's Office, has been sent to the grand jury. James Rigney, Jr., 18, appeared in Wayne District Court Monday afternoon for a preliminary hearing.
Rigney is charged with second degree arson, third degree burglary, theft by unlawful taking under $500 and tampering with physical evidence. The charges stem from a suspicious fire that occurred May 22 at the Columbia Avenue office of Wayne County Attorney Tom Simmons.
Rigney appeared in court Monday with public defender Brian Baker. Commonwealth's Attorney Matthew Leveridge stepped in as a special prosecutor replacing Simmons who would normally have conducted this type of hearing at the district court level.
Leveridge called Brian Lewis, who is an arson investigator with
Kentucky State Police, to provide testimony during the hearing.
Lewis stated that he was called to the fire scene on May 22, where
he found that the front windows of the building had been broken out
by bricks, which were located in the office.
Lewis said the fire occurred on the left side of the building, which
was in the area of the building occupied by the child support office.
Lewis stated that no accelerant was found in the building.
Lewis also stated that there was no solid evidence of an accidental cause for the fire.
He testified that during the course of the investigation, the
Monticello Police Department was contacted by an informant who stated that Rigney had broken out the windows, entered the building and took a microwave. Detective Derek Lester recovered the microwave in the location provided by the informant, according to Lewis.
Rigney was interviewed by Lewis, who said that the defendant told
him that he had gone into the building and taken the microwave.
Rigney also told officials that the fire was set to cover up the
burglary, according to Lewis' testimony.
During that interview, Rigney said he was in the building when the
fire was set, but he said he did not set the fire.
Lewis was then questioned by Baker. Lewis said that the informant contacted the Monticello Police Department on the weekend following the fire. A third person also provided information to the police regarding the fire as well, Lewis testified.
According to Lewis' testimony on Monday afternoon, Rigney stated during his interview that his shirt was used to set the fire, but
that the fire was actually started by the informant. Lewis said that
investigators had been unable to find the shirt that Rigney was
Following Lewis' statements, District Judge Scarlett Latham found
probable cause in the case and sent it to the grand jury. She ruled
that bond would remain the same at $25,000 cash or two times property on the felony charges.
Rigney is also facing 14 misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief in connection with several incidents involving vehicles. Bond on those charges has been set at $14,000 cash. Court action on the misdemeanor charges was delayed until October.