A Parsons man accused of setting fire to his home in March pleaded to two lower-level felonies on Wednesday. He faces a prison term.
Robbie D. Daniels Jr., 41, 1824 Gabriel, was charged in Labette County District Court with arson, three counts of criminal threat and three counts of cruelty to animals, all felonies.
About 10 p.m. March 23 Parsons firefighters were dispatched to a structure fire at 1824 Gabriel. Upon arrival, firefighters found flames and smoke coming from the first floor and extending to the attic. The house, owned by Betty Woods, was destroyed.
Parsons Police Department along with the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office investigated.
According to police, Daniels and Billie Jo “B.J.” Wertz rented the home. The investigation determined that Daniels had called Wertz’s employer and told the person who answered the phone that Wertz’s house was on fire and hung up, according to Parsons police. The couple had been fighting for several days and Wertz took her six children and left the home. On March 23, Daniels had been sending Wertz text messages and voice messages. One message stated, “it’s 9:04 come 9:51 I’m not responsible for what happens,” the police department said.
While at the fire scene, Wertz received text messages from Daniels, who allegedly made threats to set the homes of her sister and her daughter on fire.
On Wednesday, Daniels pleaded no contest to felony criminal damage to property (over $25,000 in value) and criminal threat. Both are lower-level felonies.
The plea would recommend a 34-month prison sentence for Daniels.
Sentencing will be Oct. 15. Daniels remains jailed.
In other cases:
— A trial is scheduled for Oct. 29-30 for Rusty G. Weber, born in 1988, 1007 S. 26th. He’s charged with taking aggravated indecent liberties with a child, an off-grid felony. The complaint alleges the incident occurred July 6, 2017. His attorney, Steve Stockard, said the county attorney made a new plea offer that he must discuss with Weber.
— A jury trial, scheduled for Oct. 8-9, will likely be rescheduled as Thomas M. Teal, born in 1977, 1270 24500 Road, will get a new attorney. Teal is accused of aggravated robbery and aggravated battery. Teal has been through a number of attorneys and has exhausted the available pool who are allowed to represent that felony level at trial. Judge Jeffry L. Jack said he will contact the Kansas Board of Indigents Defense Services to get an attorney from another judicial district appointed. Teal said he liked John Gillett from Chanute, who represented him in a Montgomery County case. Teal’s most recent attorney, Steve Stockard, had to withdraw from the case once he learned that Teal faces charges in Bourbon County. Stockard is a prosecutor in Bourbon County and would have a conflict representing Teal. Teal will return to court on Monday for a status hearing.