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Archive for Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Arson suspect appears in court

David Ryan Jay is accused of starting fire at Watson Library

December 7, 2005

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A former Kansas University student made his first appearance in Douglas County District Court on Tuesday, preparing to face three charges of arson after allegedly setting fires in Lawrence last year.

With arms folded across the front of his blue jumpsuit, David Ryan Jay appeared in court via closed-circuit television from the county jail. Jay, 25, told District Judge Pro Tem Peggy Kittel that he had no attorney, or access to money for one.

Jay has been in jail since this summer, when he was sentenced to six years and four months after being found guilty of similar arsons in Johnson County.

Kittel appointed attorney Angie Stoler as his lawyer. Jay's next appearance will be Dec. 13, when the court will set a date for a preliminary hearing.

Jay was charged with one count of aggravated arson in relation to a fire started in Watson Library at Kansas University in March 2004.

The felony charge, levied because there were people in the library at the time, carries a maximum penalty of close to 20 years in prison plus fines.

He was also charged with two felony counts of arson in relation to the other fires, one at the Clinton Parkway Nursery and Garden Store, 4900 Clinton Parkway, and another at the Lawrence Dental Center, 647 Country Club Terrace.

Each fire carries a maximum penalty of almost three years and fines, Kittel said Tuesday.

When contacted for this story, Dr. Keith Jones from the Lawrence Dental Center said that he had not been following Jay's criminal cases closely and wouldn't comment on the pending trial.

Bill Myers, spokesman for Watson Library, and Ann Peuser, owner of the Clinton Parkway Garden Store, could not be reached for comment.

In Jay's earlier Johnson County trial, a psychologist described the former student as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and said that he lit fires to battle the "new world order."

According to past trial testimony and interviews, Jay said he used Wal-Mart fire-starter logs and fuel to ignite flames in businesses, including an unoccupied senior citizens home in Olathe, a bank and a check-cashing business.

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