WASHINGTON - Daryl Lee Fierce, 69, of Charleston, W.Va., pleaded guilty today to a civil rights charge in federal court in the Southern District of West Virginia for using fire to intimidate and interfere with a person’s housing rights. Fierce set fire to the victim’s home because African-American and biracial individuals visited the victim in her home. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Fierce faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for July 30, 2009.
According to documents filed in court, on or about July 16, 2007, Fierce admitted that he set fire to a home located on Noyes Avenue in Charleston because the tenant occupying the home, a white woman, associated with persons of another race and color. Fierce set fire to the outside wall of the victim’s bedroom at night as she slept. Fierce further admitted that before the incident he had used racial epithets against guests, including young children, who visited the victim’s home.
"Living in one’s home and associating with friends of one’s choosing, without violent interference because of race, is a core right of all persons in this country," said Loretta King, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "The defendant used violence against an innocent victim because of his racial prejudice. This is illegal, and despicable, and we will prosecute such crimes whenever and wherever they occur."
The FBI, the Charleston Police Department and the Charleston Fire Department investigated this case. The case was prosecuted by James Walsh with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and Lisa G. Johnson, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia.