UPDATE: Jury Finds Aaron Jones Guilty in Chenal Fire; Defense Says Jones Will Appeal

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Tuesday, Sep. 28, 2010 5:15 pm  

A Little Rock jury finds developer Aaron Jones guilty on four counts in the May 2008 fire that destroyed his west Little Rock home. Jones' attorney, Tim Dudley, said his client will appeal.

"If Aaron Jones set that fire himself, why would he pee in his pants?" Jones' lead defense attorney, Tim Dudley, said. "You pee in your pants because you're scared to death. Those pair of shorts speak more to what happened that night than the witnesses in this case."

Other arguments in the case centered on whether Jones was really in money trouble at the time of the fire.

The jury retired at about 12:45 p.m. to consider a verdict. It returned to the courtroom at about 5 p.m., and was dismissed by 5:10 p.m.

Prosecutors and insurance investigators didn't believe Jones' account of one or more armed intruders breaking into his home, binding him hand and foot in his bed and setting the fire that could have killed him had he not been able to hop to a neighbor's house for help.

Monetary gain in the midst of financial adversity was the catalyst behind the alleged crimes, according to the government's case, which began Sept. 20.

After the fire, Jones made a $2.9 million loss claim to Standard Fire Insurance Co. of Hartford, Conn.

The company grudgingly paid off the home's $1.2 million first mortgage held by Countrywide Home Loans of Calabasas, Calif. But Standard Fire would not cover the claim for personal property loss, citing its belief that Jones caused the fire.

That claim was rejected in a certified letter dated March, 27, 2009.



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