Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Roanoke man admits setting occupied house on fire
Larry Darnell Brooks Jr.
A Roanoke man admitted that he set fire to an occupied house late last year, forcing the six children and at least two adults who were inside to flee their burning home.
Larry Darnell Brooks Jr., 24, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Roanoke Circuit Court to one charge of arson and now faces up to life in prison when he's sentenced in March.
No one was hurt in the Oct.15 incident, which occurred in the 2500 block of Massachusetts Avenue Northwest.
Nearly 30 firefighters were called that night, and the fire destroyed the two-story house that Latacia Muse and her children had rented for years.
Muse has said she and her children, who range in age from 3 to 17, lost nearly everything.
During Tuesday's plea hearing, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Peter Lubeck said that just before the incident, Brooks had a conversation with Muse's 17-year-old son, then went behind the house, where neighbors saw him start a fire with matches and a soda bottle full of gasoline.
Those witnesses stopped Brooks and held him as he tried to flee, Muse said, and court records showed Brooks had gasoline on his clothes afterward.
"He was very intoxicated that night," public defender Rachel Jackson told Judge Charlie Dorsey.
Dorsey ordered a March 28 pre-sentence report, which will include restitution estimates for both the Muse family and the building's owner.