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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of New York

Friday, February 7, 2014

Butler Arson Homicide Charge Dismissed Without Prejudice

ALBANY, NEW YORK – The federal criminal complaint charging Robert A. Butler with arson resulting in personal injury and death, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 844(i), was dismissed today without prejudice, announced United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.

The complaint was filed on June 4, 2013, based on an affidavit alleging that on or about May 2, 2013, Butler used gasoline to start a fire at 438 Hulett Street, Schenectady, New York, resulting in the deaths of four people and the destruction of the building and its contents. The dismissal of the charge results in the release of Butler from federal custody.

The basis for the dismissal was set forth in the filed order as follows:

This case involves unusual and complex facts, with the complaint based upon allegations (in the affidavit in support of the complaint) that the defendant used gasoline to start a fire at a residential rental property in Schenectady, New York that resulted in the destruction of the building and its contents and the deaths of a father and three young children and very serious burn injuries for another child. The gravity of the crime and the potential punishments, the unusual and complex facts, including information regarding the involvement of others, and the circumstances regarding eyewitnesses necessitate further investigation.

U.S. Attorney Hartunian said, “We are completely committed to continuing this investigation until justice is done. We are grateful for the dedication of the New York Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Schenectady Police Department, and the Schenectady Fire Department to this case, and for the assistance of other federal agencies and police departments in the region. The victims of this horrific crime deserve and will continue to get our best efforts to secure justice.”

Questions may be addressed to First Assistant U.S. Attorney Grant C. Jaquith at 518-431-0247.

Updated January 29, 2015