The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 30, 2012

Trial begins in first-degree arson case

By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — A trial began Monday afternoon for a Clinton County man accused of first-degree arson in connection with a May fire in Elwood.

Ricky L. Hull Jr., 34, is standing trial on the charge, accused of willfully causing a fire on May 26 in Elwood while allegedly manufacturing methamphetamine.

Opening statements were heard and the State’s evidence was given for this felony trial which is expected to finish this afternoon.

During his opening statements, County Attorney Mike Wolf instructed the jury to consider certain facts in the case as he presents his evidence. He told the jury that they will hear about the fire that broke out in a rental duplex in Elwood. He asked jurors to listen to testimony from the owner of the duplex about the damage that occurred. A neighbor will also testify about the fire.

Wolf told the jury to pay attention to what items were found in the upstairs bedroom, where the fire occurred. According to court documents, chemicals commonly used in manufacturing meth were allegedly found in the upstairs bathroom, along with coffee filters containing a residue. The residue allegedly tested positive for meth, according to the affidavit.

Wolf told the jurors they will hear the defendant’s own statement about the fire. He said after all of the facts are presented, he will be asking them to find Hull guilty of causing the fire while manufacturing meth.

Defense attorney Bruce Ingham said his fear was that with the amount of evidence the state was set to present, the jurors’ eyes would glaze over. He asked that they listen and look carefully at all of the testimony.

Ingham told the jury that while his client claims responsibility for the fire, he maintains that it was not set intentionally or in the manufacturing of methamphetamine.

He told the jury that the fire was an accident and the only fair and just verdict is not guilty.