Arsonist sentenced to prison for 4th of July blaze
A Pike County man who set fire to his estranged wife’s Louisiana home on Fourth of July last year has been sentenced to six years in state prison.
Russell Ray Darnell, 42, was sentenced on Friday, March 26 by Pike County Circuit Court Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer.
Darnell made a threat on July 4, 2012 to torch the home where his wife and children lived at 622 North Carolina St. because she refused to attend the riverfront fireworks show in Louisiana, according to court records.
The fire just south of the downtown business district burst out just as the fireworks show was ending. Members of the Louisiana Fire Department who were at the fireworks show sped to the scene.
They found thick, white smoke pouring from the home at the corner of North Carolina and Seventh streets. The home suffered extensive smoke and water damage.
Darnell was arrested later that evening and admitted to Louisiana police that he had set a blanket on fire in the living room of the residence, according to court records. A state fire marshal investigated the blaze and confirmed it was an arson.
That caused Pike County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Fisher to charge Darnell with second-degree arson.
Darnell, who was originally listed as an Ashburn resident but later from Bowling Green, initially pled not guilty to the crime. He was represented by Attorney David Ferman and changed his plea to guilty on Feb. 11.