Man accused of starting fatal Hertel Street fire pleads guilty

Local News

A Rochester man accused of setting a deadly house fire last year pleaded guilty Thursday afternoon.

Lawrence Dash, 63, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder and two counts of second-degree arson after setting a house on fire on Hertel Street on November 14, 2016.

Champagne Singleton, 34, was killed and six others were hurt in the fire. Two of Singleton’s children were inside the home at the time he set the fire, but both children were uninjured.

Dash testified before a judge Thursday afternoon and admitted to setting a fire to the porch of the home using a charcoal starter, knowing that there were people inside the home. Dash admitted if he had not started the fire, Singleton would not have died.

The plea deal requires Dash to spend 25 years in state prison and 5 years post-release supervision.

The District Attorney’s office preferred the plea deal over a trial by jury in order to avoid having the young children involved testify in court. The DA’s office said while the children are fully capable of testifying, it would clearly be traumatic for them to do so. 

“The two children who lost their mother will probably never be the same,” said Brian Green of the District Attorney’s Office’s Major Felony Bureau. “And in large part, this avoids them having to relive this nightmare, whether in court this time for a trial, or down the road for an appeal. So we hope the family can find closure and peace in this process.”

Prosecutors say the children who were victims of this fire are now doing well. Prosecutors are also seeking orders of protection for all the victims involved. 

Dash is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 14.

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