JAY — Devin C. Penney is accused of setting fire to his mother’s house at 229 Intervale Road for the second time since Aug. 9, 2017. His mother, Tina Penney, no longer lives there.

Devin Penney Franklin County Detention Center photo

State fire investigators arrested the 24-year-old Jay man Tuesday on a warrant charging Class A arson, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Penney had recently completed treatment at a health facility in southern Maine after a fire was started July 23 outside his mother’s house, according to a news release from Katharine England, a spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The fire primarily damaged the exterior and property of former housemates, who have since moved out of the residence, according to the release.

Jay Deputy Fire Chief Corey Leclerc arrived at 229 Intervale Road on July 23 and saw Penney throwing burning bed sheets and curtains out of the second story window, state fire investigator Jeremy Damren wrote in an affidavit filed at a Farmington court.

Leclerc said that Penney was yelling at him and a Jay police officer to get off the property. Leclerc asked Penney how the fire got started and Penney told him he did it and that he had just gotten out of prison for arson and was not going back, according to the document.

Damren and Jay police executed a search warrant and Damren noticed several pieces of burned clothing, bedding and curtains on the right side lawn and heat damage to the siding of the house, Damren wrote.

A Jay police officer took Penney to a Farmington hospital for evaluation and Damren interviewed him there.

“Devin told me that he had taken some of his roommates’ belongings, tied some wire type substance around them, and lowered the items down and on to the ground from the second-floor bathroom as a science experiment,” Damren wrote. “Devin said that he then did something similar with a torch that was lit and lowered it down, allowing for the clothing to catch fire next to the house.”

Penney said he was able to control it by putting water on it to calm it down or to add more clothing when needed, the fire investigator wrote.

“Devin said that he also used some paint thinner. Devin said that it was not his intention to burn down the house, but did acknowledge that were was some damage to the siding of the house,” Damren wrote.

His roommates had not been around Penney for about a week.

Penney was accused of setting a small fire in a garage under the split-level house in 2017, Sgt. Kenneth Grimes of the Office of the State Fire Marshal said previously.

His mother lived there with her four children at the time. Town records confirm she is the owner.

Jay Fire Rescue Chief Mike Booker said in 2017 that the small blaze was put out by a fire extinguisher and there was no damage, although firefighters cleared smoke from the building.

In January 2018, Penney pleaded guilty to domestic violence reckless conduct and criminal mischief in the 2017 case and charges of arson and aggravated criminal mischief were dismissed, according to court documents.

He was sentenced to 364 days with all but five months suspended and given a year of probation on the domestic violence charge. He was sentenced to 180 days with all of it suspended on the criminal mischief charge. He was also given a year of probation, which was consecutive to the first year.

Penney went before Judge Cynthia Montgomery via videoconference Wednesday afternoon from the Franklin County Detention Center in Farmington. He did not enter a plea because cases involving felony charges must be presented to a grand jury first.

Assistant District Attorney Kayla Alves requested bail of $2,500 with conditions that he comply with aftercare instructions from Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook, take all prescribed medications and not possess or use incendiary devices or combustible materials. She also told the judge there had a been a probation violation and Penney served another five months.

Alves said there are concerns about Penney’s mental health and when he doesn’t take his prescribed medication he is a danger to the public.

Defense attorney Heidi Drew said Penney alleged that the property was abandoned and it is his. She asked the court to set bail at $400 and he would agree to house arrest.

Montgomery set bail at $1,000 with no third-party bail and set conditions that he comply fully with aftercare instructions from Spring Harbor, take all prescribed medicine according to directions and not use or possess incendiary devices or combustible materials. She also added the condition of random searches.

Bail can be revisited once attorney Thomas Carey reviews the case.


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