LEWISTON, Maine — A judge on Monday ordered $350,000 cash bail each for two city men charged with three counts of arson in connection with a downtown fire a week ago.
Bryan Wood, 23, of 131 Bartlett St. and transient Brian Morin, 29, appeared in 8th District Court.
Judge John Beliveau cited the seriousness of the crimes, the risk to the downtown community and the prior criminal records of the two for the high bail.
The morning blaze on May 6 destroyed two apartment buildings on Bartlett Street that were under rehabilitation and damaged a third on Horton Street.
Assistant District Attorney Neil McLean said Morin reportedly said he was “sick and tired” of the large number of abandoned buildings in the city’s downtown. He also said Morin referred to himself as “lookout” in connection with the fires.
Steven Carey, Wood’s attorney, said his client was “mildly mentally retarded” and may not fully understand the charges against him nor all of the legal proceedings.
He said Wood is scheduled to undergo a competency hearing in connection with an earlier criminal charge.
According to a police affidavit, Wood told his girlfriend that Morin had set the fire; she told police. She said Wood had been with Morin shortly before the fire started, then noticed it from his apartment window at 131 Bartlett St. shortly after he returned home.
Wood told a fire investigator that he saw Morin coming out of the side entrance to 114 Bartlett St. “right before the fire started.”
A witness told police that he looked out of his window after hearing “crackling and popping noises” and saw flames and smoke appear to come from 114 Bartlett St., according to the affidavit. He said he thought he smelled kerosene coming from outside. About 15-20 minutes before the fire, he saw a man fitting Wood’s description riding a bike in circles on Bartlett Street.
Morin had been staying with Wood in his apartment recently, but Wood told police he hadn’t allowed Morin into his apartment because Morin owed him money.
Daniel Young, a senior investigator at the Office of the State Fire Marshal, said in his affidavit that no exact cause could be determined due to the extensive damage caused by the fire, but it was ruled arson.
“No accidental fire causes have been identified leaving human element as the only possible cause of the fire,” he wrote.