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Garner man accused of arson pleads guilty to lesser charges

GARNER — A Garner man accused of arson for allegedly starting an occupied home on fire has entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors.

A criminal complaint was filed against 43-year-old Dontau Smith last April 14th. Authorities were called to Smith’s home in the 400 block of West 5th Street where they say a woman who also lived at the home told them they had an argument where Smith talked about burning the house down and “burning them while they sleep”.

The woman says she was upstairs shortly after 1:45 AM when she smelled smoke, later seeing Smith starting a small fire at the bottom of the stairs. The woman was able to quickly extinguish the fire.

Smith was later arrested while he was hiding in the basement. Smith was originally charged with first-degree arson, a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Court records show that he’s pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of threat of arson and reckless use of fire or explosives. He’s scheduled to be sentenced in Hancock County District Court on March 29th.


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