Richard Charest, left, stands next to his client, Brian Morin, who pleaded guilty to three counts of arson Friday morning in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn. Morin will be sentenced in August. (Amber Waterman/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — A Lewiston man pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of arson and agreed to serve up to seven years in prison for setting fires that burned several Lewiston apartment buildings last year.

Brian Morin, 30, is one of the two remaining defendants charged in a spate of downtown fires. He was charged with three counts of arson stemming from a fire that destroyed two vacant apartment buildings on Bartlett Street and damaged an occupied building on Horton Street on May 6, 2013.

That fire came within eight days of two other fires that swept through seven other apartment buildings, displacing more than 200 tenants in all.

In a deal struck with prosecutors, Morin will be sentenced to 12 years with all but a cap of seven years suspended on the first count of arson. That means he can argue at his Aug. 6 sentencing that he should serve less than seven years. He also agreed to be on probation for four years following his prison time.

On the second count, he agreed to an eight-year sentence, with all prison time suspended, plus four years of probation. He agreed to five years with all of that time suspended on the third count, plus four years of probation.

All counts will run consecutively, meaning he will be on probation for a total of 12 years. His total sentence of 25 years in prison, minus whatever time he serves, will hang over his head during the time he is on probation. Should he violate terms of his probation, he may have to serve some or all of that time behind bars.


Morin underwent three psychological exams at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta: one to determine whether he was competent to assist in his defense, a second to determine his state of mind at the time of the fires and a third to provide a more complete picture of his mental state. His lawyer, Richard Charest, had filed motions to suppress statements Morin made to police.

On Friday, Charest withdrew his motions. He said the results of the examinations showed that Morin was competent to stand trial and that he suffered no abnormal condition of mind at the time of the fires.

Morin’s co-defendant, Bryan Wood Jr., 24, of 131 Bartlett St., Lewiston, was found not competent to stand trial last summer and was released from Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn.

Charest wrote in motions last year that his client had been found incompetent to stand trial in past legal proceedings and “has a hard time grasping many of the legal concepts needed to participate in his defense.”

Morin’s second evaluation was aimed at determining his mental state at the time of the crime in an effort to seek an insanity defense.

Prosecutors have not argued against the evaluations and offered a plea deal that Morin had considered for some time.


Morin has been held at Androscoggin County Jail in lieu of $350,000 cash bail.

According to a police affidavit, Morin said he and Wood stood on a street corner and talked about setting the buildings on fire. He said the two walked to the rear of one of the buildings where Wood pulled from his coat pocket a can of Butane lighter fluid.

Morin said Wood stood on the back porch of the building and sprayed the lighter fluid onto something that was black. Wood lit the lighter fluid, then went to a second building, Morin said, according to the affidavit.

Morin said he took a cushion from a couch at the rear of the second building and put it on the deck at the stairs that led to the ground. He said Wood sprayed lighter fluid on the cushion and lit it using a black Butane lighter that belonged to Wood’s girlfriend. Morin said Wood threw a second cushion on the first one.

The two then left.

Morin said Friday that he served as lookout for Wood but didn’t set the fire. He is expected to give a statement at sentencing.

Two 12-year-old Lewiston boys were charged with multiple arson counts in connection with the other downtown Lewiston fires that spring.

Three arson charges against one of the boys, Brody Covey, were dismissed after a judge threw out his confession to a police detective in connection with a fire that destroyed three apartment buildings on Blake, Bates and Pine streets on April 29, 2013. The other boy, Abdi Ibrahim, was found by a judge in January not competent to stand trial on four counts of arson in connection with a fire that burned four apartment buildings and a garage on Bartlett and Pierce streets on May 3, 2013.

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