Jury returns verdict in trial of man accused of setting fire to Parowan home

Stock image, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — A jury deliberated less than 45 minutes last week before finding Douglas Jack Carter guilty of setting a fire that destroyed a home in Parowan last year.

Carter, 32, was found guilty of first-degree felony aggravated arson, which carries a sentence of five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The defendant was found “not guilty” on two additional misdemeanor charges of arson during the two-day trial that took place June 20-21 before Fifth District Court Judge Matthew Bell in Cedar City.

During the first day of trial, the state called four witnesses to testify in open court and presented nearly 40 pieces of evidence, including the pajama bottoms the defendant was reportedly wearing, a box of wooden matches and a gas can collected during the investigation.

On day two of the trial, Carter’s attorney, Troy Sundquist, motioned for a mistrial during a meeting in judges chambers that was also attended by the prosecutor, Chad Dotson. The details of the meeting were not available at the time of this report. The motion was denied two hours later.

After closing arguments, the jury was excused to begin deliberations at 1:56 p.m. and returned with the verdict at 2:40 p.m.

The case involves an incident reported Nov. 1 when firefighters were called to a house fire in the area of 300 South in Parowan shortly before 4:30 a.m. Fire crews found smoke coming from a small corner of the front room and quickly extinguished it before it had a chance to spread.

The inside of a home is gutted after a fire on 300 South in Parowan, Utah, Nov. 2, 2018 | Photo courtesy of the Ken Carpenter, St. George News

Parowan Fire Chief David Schiers told St. George News in November that a city inspector was called out and checked the electrical box near the fire’s point of origin but found nothing suspicious. Firefighters returned to the home multiple times throughout the day to check for any residual fire or rekindle.

The following morning, fire crews were again called to the same address where flames were engulfing the roof. By the time the fire was extinguished, the house was destroyed.

Detectives on the case said the suspect had a history of starting fires. At the scene of the house fire in question, Carter was observed “watching firefighters and asking questions,” according to court records. The investigation also revealed that the home was two houses away from the suspect’s and belonged to a family member.

Carter was later located by officers and arrested. During an interview with Parowan Police, court records indicate he confessed to lighting the fire. He told police he dumped gas down a wall and lit the fire with a wooden match, evidence that was found during a search and later presented at trial.

Carter has remained in the Iron County Jail on $100,000 cash-only bail since his arrest and is scheduled to appear for sentencing Aug. 5.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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