Archive for Friday, February 24, 2006

Agent: Design helped fire’s spread

No accelerants found at scene; judge rules Rose should stand trial

February 24, 2006


Jason Allen Rose sits in the court room Thursday at the second day of his preliminary hearing.

Jason Allen Rose sits in the court room Thursday at the second day of his preliminary hearing.

The design of the Boardwalk Apartments contributed to the rapid spread of the deadly fire that destroyed a building at the complex last fall, an investigator said Thursday.

The walkway outside the building had ceilings made of quarter-inch-plywood that burned easily. Vertical wooden slats and supports on the building helped the fire spread upward. And the stairwells along the front of the building acted "like a chimney" that allowed the fire to spread quickly from its second-floor origin up to the third floor and the roof.

All those aspects of the fire were described Thursday in court by Douglas Monty, a special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The remarks came on the second and final day of a preliminary hearing for suspect Jason A. Rose, who is charged with setting the Oct. 7 fire.

Monty testified that he didn't know of any accelerants, such as lighter fluid or gasoline, found at the scene.

Rather, he said it was possible that the fire that destroyed the 76-unit building could have started with nothing more than a burning box of paperwork. That's what police say Rose admitted setting on fire that night on a walkway outside the building.

At midafternoon Thursday, Douglas County District Court Judge Jack Murphy found there was enough evidence to try Rose on three counts of first-degree murder, one count of aggravated arson and eight counts of aggravated battery.

Rose's next court date will be March 21.

Murphy made his finding despite an argument by defense attorney Ron Evans that Rose never intended to set the building on fire - something he said Rose emphatically told police.

"He liked living there," Evans said. "He had no reason : to burn the apartment building down."

Even if it's true that Rose set the box on fire outside the building, Evans said, he didn't mean for it to spread. That may be reckless, Evans said, but it's not aggravated arson - and without aggravated arson, there's no murder.

Also, Evans said that police questioned Rose for "hours and hours, days and days" despite his mental disabilities. Rose's conditions include attention deficit disorder, a learning disability and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"He's 20 years old, but not mentally," one of Rose's friends, Russ Beeson, said in an interview outside the courtroom earlier this week.

Judge Murphy said he agreed there were questions regarding the role that Rose's mental disabilities played in his questioning. But at preliminary hearing, judges are required to look at evidence "in the light most favorable" to prosecutors, and he found there was enough evidence for Rose to stand trial on all the charges.

Rose, a former foster child, had moved out on his own just weeks before the fire began. A Lawrence Police detective testified Wednesday that Rose first denied starting a fire, then admitted setting fire to a small piece of paper. Later, Rose told police he was angry about getting a box of cards and photographs from his parents and had set the box on fire outside the apartments, police testified.

This week's hearing didn't make clear whether investigators ever came up with evidence corroborating Rose's story about the box.


cms 12 years, 3 months ago

Yesterday I was giving some thought to the charges again this young man and the evidence revealed so far. I wondered how this case differed from a car accident that results in the death of a pedestrian or passenger. Involuntary manslaughter seems to be the correct charge based upon the facts so far. I am not a lawyer, just a citizen feeling a bit sorry for a young man that made a bad mistake.

Baille 12 years, 3 months ago

I have refrained from commenting on this situation because someone I knew died in the fire and because the facts were unknown.

As more facts become known, it appears that aggravated arson and murder may be inappropriate charges to bring against Mr. Rose. Unfortunately, the situation is complicated by interrogation procedures that often lead to less than reliable answers.

For now, it appears that a reservation of judgment would be the most appropriate course.

bmwjhawk 12 years, 3 months ago

Your hearts are bleeding. Actions have consequences.

freebird 12 years, 3 months ago

I understand this was a poor decision on the part of Mr. Rose. And though it is most likely true that he had resources available to him and "knew the system" it is also highly likely that the system failed him time and time again. I used to work in the foster care system and I know how slow they are to react to anything as well as the poor decisions that are made in regards to the children and even more so those that have left foster care. Most likely Mr. Rose wasn't in a frame of mind to think (like most of us) I need help I'm going to start a fire. With these kids it's usally a react not a logical progression of how do I deal with this. I think it was an accident and I'm sorry for those that died. I don't know Mr. Rose but I do know many foster kids like him. And based on that I don't think he intended to harm anyone and most likely regrets that people got hurt and even more that some died.

Fatty_McButterpants 12 years, 3 months ago

Okay, just because the kid's got A.D.D. it does not mean that he has a "diminished mental capacity". I have A.D.D. and I'm smarter than a fair number of people (though probably less humble). Usually, people with A.D.D. are more creative, better at thinking "outside the box", visual & tactile learners. We're not dumber, we just learn differently than you logic-based folks. To say that we have diminished mental capacity is just a defensive ploy - though I don't think this is far off from the perception that most non-A.D.D. folks have.

Confrontation 12 years, 3 months ago

So, after years of experience in fire starting, you want us to believe that this punk didn't know what he was doing? It disgusts me how people use A.D.D., Depression, and other crap like that to make us feel sorry for murderers, rapists, and other criminals. How is starting a fire on a structure surrounded in wood an innocent accident? This idiot knew what he was doing. I understand that he had a crappy childhood, but that is no excuse to burn down buildings full of people. I really wish "an eye for an eye" could take place here.

Jamesaust 12 years, 3 months ago

Prosecutors will have to show that Rose intended to commit arson - not that he intended to kill anyone - to make a charge of felony murder stick. Kansas defines arson by statute as an "inherently dangerous" crime and should anyone die as a direct result of that crime (even by the most bizarre, unforeseen means) a person may then be found guilty of murder (the intent from one merges into the other).

Proving that Rose intended the arson - absent some confession - will have to be done probably by circumstantial evidence (basically saying to a jury "how could any person have intended or not foreseen otherwise"?).

More info about the box of cards/photos may be very useful as it could cut both ways: on one hand, maybe this was a trigger for a momentary lapse in judgment (perhaps momentary insanity?); on the other hand, maybe Rose was just angry and, while aware that he was committing arson, didn't care.

Ragingbear 12 years, 3 months ago

They don't have to show that he intended to commit arson. Only that a fire was a reasonable and expected outcome of his actions. If he did leave that fire and go inside, or he failed to grab a nearby extinguisher and put it out, then it is still arson.

bkt_1977 12 years, 3 months ago

I have to commend Fatty_McButterpants for addressing a sensitive issue. Unfortunately, most people seem to think that ADD doesn't really exist or that it is a shortcoming, an embarrassment, a disability. Well, my ADD is only a disability when I'm forced to function contrary to my nature (i.e. in a highly structured manner for long periods of time) and it is certainly not indicative of a mental deficiency!

Evans and Weslander are complicating the issue, which is whether or not Rose intended to set the fire. I'm disappointed in Weslander for following the list of Rose's conditions with Beeson's quote because it suggests that having ADD, a learning disability, and/or PTSD means that one is of lesser intelligence. Unfortunately, people seem much more interested in reading articles that delve into a person's history and pick apart his psyche. I know I shouldn't be surprised. Sensationalism and misinformation are regular components of most "news" stories these days, yet I still read them and react. Perhaps that is my shortcoming.

Ragingbear 12 years, 3 months ago

Actually, those with ADD tend to be more intelligent, creative, and imaginitive. They also multi-task quite well. In fact, the more multitasking they do, the better they are. It's not a disability any more than dyslexia is. Understand it, and not only will you function normally, but can be even better than those on the same level as you without it.

PTSD can be disruptive, but none of those issues would make somebody unable to distinguish between right and wrong, or fail to see the consequence of their actions.

neopolss 12 years, 3 months ago

Doesn't sound like a very Intelligent .... Design


badger 12 years, 3 months ago

I don't see anyone saying he had diminished mental capacity because he had ADD. I think you're extrapolating. What was said is:

"Rose's conditions include attention deficit disorder, a learning disability and post-traumatic stress disorder."

Of those, the vague term 'learning disability' can encompass a lot of things from the inability to read well to mild retardation to an inability to follow abstract thought patterns. It's also implied that those don't represent the sum total of his diagnoses.

I don't think that any of the things mentioned can prove that he's not guilty because he didn't know right from wrong. Where they may come in is if he has a disability that causes him to be unable to process certain cause-and-effect abstract thought processes, he could have set the fire without realizing the building would catch, meaning it's a lot more along the lines of the above-mentioned car accident, legally speaking.

He acknowledges that he set the fire that appears to have destroyed the building. He is ethically, morally, and personally responsible for the deaths. But if he never intended the building to catch fire (if he expected the fire to go out on its own, like a trash can fire usually does), then legally it's not murder, it's more like manslaughter, which carries a prison term with it but is a more accurate representation of what actually seems to have happened.

Most likely, no matter what, he'll be intensively 'in system' for the rest of his life one way or another, in prison or a mental ward, and I'd honestly prefer the latter if the circumstances are as the LJ World has represented them to be.

freebird 12 years, 3 months ago

Look at intent not results.

Under the criminal law of most states, arson is committed when a person intentionally burns almost any kind of structure or building, not just a house or business. Many states recognize differing degrees of arson, based on such factors as whether the building was occupied and whether insurance fraud was intended.

In order for someone to be found guilty of first degree murder the government must prove that the person killed another person; the person killed the other person with malice aforethought; and the killing was premeditated.

To kill with malice aforethought means to kill either deliberately and intentionally or recklessly with extreme disregard for human life.

Premeditation means with planning or deliberation. The amount of time needed for premeditation of a killing depends on the person and the circumstances. It must be long enough, after forming the intent to kill, for the killer to have been fully conscious of the intent and to have considered the killing.

yourewrongidiot 12 years, 3 months ago

I'm glad I'm not the only one who kind of feels for this kid. Sure, it was a bad thing he did, don't get me wrong, but can you imagne being in his shoes? He clearly isn't fully functional mentally, and is now being thrown into a very harsh and cruel world because of a mistake he made. But one mistake is all it takes...

Baille 12 years, 3 months ago

Wow. Break out the law school students. :) Welcome aboard, guys.

Sounds like there may be a problem with the "knowingly" to me. What do you all think?

Jamesaust 12 years, 3 months ago

"They don't have to show that he intended to commit arson. Only that a fire was a reasonable and expected outcome of his actions."

Close, but no. Felony murder combines (here) arson with a death. You cannot get to felony murder without proving the underlying felony.

Arson is defined in K.S.A. 21-3718. It is: knowingly, damaging a dwelling by fire; It is not knowingly starting a fire that ends up damaging a dwelling. For example, one may intend to start a fire, say, in one's own backyard (let's assume there's no ordinance against it). That fire may get out of control and spread to a neighbors house. One would be guity of several things (stupidity for one but most possibly criminal negligence, certainly civil liabiity) but one is not guilty of arson.

Here, the defense attorney has already said Rose did not intend to damage the building with his fire ('he loved living at the apartment complex so why would he burn it'?). The prosecutor will say: 'Its not like he set this fire 20 feet away and it got to the complex beyond his control. Rose set the fire directly AT the complex knowing full well the complex would burn.' The jury will have to figure out which best describes Rose's intent.

Jamesaust 12 years, 3 months ago

"In order for someone to be found guilty of first degree murder ..."

All true but Rose is charged with felony murder and that requires a different intent.

First degree murder (premeditated) would mean that Rose intended to kill people and used fire as his weapon. (He could have used any weapon and it'd still be first degree murder.)

Felony murder says that Rose intended to burn the apartment complex and people happened to die as a result. (If no one had died, it'd just be arson.)

punky 12 years, 3 months ago

they dont even know if it was a box of stuff that caused the fire. i lived there and i dont think he did it alone. i think that someone else was involved. i have some disturbing information from a friend that leads me to think this and i have talked to detectives about it. if he did it the way he said he is already cought why is he changing his story 3 times.

Baille 12 years, 3 months ago

You are SO right, notwhatuouthink. Who would think we would actually have to follow the law? The law should be interpreted to mean whatever we need it to mean to make us feel better. Now there is a conservative line of thinking.


Baille 12 years, 3 months ago

No. It doesn't. You set a fire in the fireplace and it goes haywire and burns the complex, not arson. You set a fire in your grill and it goes haywire, not arson. You set a fire on the end of a cigarette and it goes haywire, not arson. You set a fire in a big stick of wax (some people call 'em candles) and it goes haywire, not arson. You set a fire under a pot of soup and it goes haywire, not arson. You are burning a bunch of letters and cards from a father that abused you until the State took you away and rolled you around from one temporary home to the next and that fire goes haywire, not arson. Maybe. Let's see what other facts come out - or as I originally said, reserve judgment until we learn more. What I can say with certainty, though, is intentionally setting a fire does not automatically equal arson.

We. Need. More. Facts.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 3 months ago

In order for it to be arson, wouldn't they have to prove that he deliberately set the fire with the intention to burn down the building?

From what the article said, this doesn't seem to be the case. Yes, he set some papers on fire. But it doesn't appear that he intended to burn down the building in the process.

And as far as I know, you can't be arrested and charged with stupidity. If you could, most of our neighborhoods would be pretty empty...

Ragingbear 12 years, 3 months ago

When he set the fire, and left it unnattended, it became willfull negligence. That negligence led to the fire. That fire being a direct result of his actions. That action was a felony in any case. Any felony that results in the death of people automatically results in a first degree murder charge.

Once the process of justice goes through, then the end result will most likely be a plea to one count of lesser arson, and 3 counts of anything from Muder 2(depraved indifference) and Involuntary Manslaughter. Stack on the other charges that can accompany it, and even with concurrent sentences the kid will probably see 25+ years behind bars.

The problem then will be when he gets out. A kid with a penchant for fire, foster care and group homes his childhood, and 25 or more years of the start of his adult life behind bars will most likely turn him into a sociopath. That is unless he's killed behind bars. There is bound to be somebody that is tied to one of the victims inside the state prison.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 3 months ago

I still say that in order for someone to be charged with arson, they have to have set the fire for the sole purpose of burning down the building. This doesn't seem to be the case here.

I've heard of people who burned trash or leaves, they left the fire unattended, and it got out of control. They weren't charged with arson, even if someone's house caught on fire.

Stupid, yeah. Arson, no.

Baille 12 years, 3 months ago

Arson is a crime requiring specific intent, not general intent. Gross negligence won't cut it. That is a civil concept and sets a fairly high bar. On the other hand, there are criminal counterparts to the concept and those would seem to provide a more appropriate charge to bring against this guy.

You are kind of fast and loose with your terms, Ragingbear. "Willful," "negligence," "aggravated arson," and "arson" are all terms of art and must be used with precision. For that matter so is "sociopath." I am not saying your are wrong overall, but your use of some of these terms makes me a bit queasy.

The bottom line is this: to analyze the appropriate charge, one needs to list the elements of each crime. These are statutory and so that is pretty easy. Then simple identify facts that support each element. It is a fairly simple process on its face, although it can get a bit more difficult. I assume this is what the charging attorney did in this case; however, as the facts become better known, it appears that arson and, most probably, felony murder is an inappropriate charge. But, again, we need more facts. If one lays out the elements, we simply do not know enough to be able to say with certainty which charge is appropriate.

50YearResident 11 years, 4 months ago

Jason Rose is a "Pyromaniac" and as such needs to be put into jail for everyones safty.

Symptoms and diagnosis Pyromaniacs are known to have feelings of sadness and loneliness, followed by rage, which leads to the setting of fires as an outlet.For a positive diagnosis, there must be purposeful setting of fire on at least two occasions. There is tension or arousal prior to the act, and gratification or relief when it is over. It is done for its own sake, and not for any other motivation. In some cases it is all about the pleasure of seeing what other people have to do to extinguish the fire, and the pyromaniac may enjoy reading of the effects of what they have done. Many arsonists claim that they just like to set fires for the sake of fires and the blaze of dancing flames. Many pyromaniacs feel a relief of stress in watching things burn or smother, and the condition is fueled by the need to watch objects burn.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.