Man Sets Car on Fire in Newport, Then Writes Apology to Owner

in Feature/News

NEWPORT — Cory Carpenter Jr., 33, of Newport, pleaded not guilty on Monday to a felony charge of third-degree arson and a misdemeanor count of unlawful mischief. The charges are relating to a bizarre incident that happened on Main Street in Newport on Saturday night, where police responded to a blue Dodge Neon ablaze 20 minutes before midnight.

According to an affidavit written by Newport City Police Officer Joshua Lillis, Shanda Powers reported that her car was on fire Saturday night. When Lillis responded, Powers told him that she saw a tall, thin man wearing a trench coat start the fire.

One of the firefighters on the scene spotted a man who matched the description of the man Powers described, standing in a doorway on Main street watching the fire.

When Lillis asked Carpenter why he set fire to the vehicle, his response was, “What car?”

When Lillis told Carpenter that there was a witness who saw him do it, his response was, “If you tell me who owns the car, I’ll tell you why I did it.”

According to court records, Fire Chief Jamie LeClair recovered part of the gas opening, and it had been stuffed with a rag and a lighter.

According to the affidavit, when Lillis told Carpenter the name of the car owner, he replied, “I did it to be an asshole.”

But, as it turns out, whoever Carpenter had intended to seek revenge on, Shanda Powers was not that person. Carpenter later wrote an apology note while in custody, after learning that the car belonged to someone else. The note reads:

“I apologize for setting fire to your car. Wasn’t my intentions. Peace be with you. Truly sorry. Cory L. Carpenter Jr.”

Lillis wrote in his affidavit that surveillance cameras caught Carpenter in the act of setting the car on fire. He also wrote that Carpenter was found in possession of Clonazapam pills which belonged to his mother, and his blood alcohol content was 0.207 percent.

Carpenter is currently in Northern State Correctional Facility for lack of a $500 deposit on a $5,000 bail.

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