Man Pleads No Contest in Jefferson County Arson Case

gavelBROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) —  – A Clarion man has pleaded no contest to arson charges from an incident that happened earlier this year in Jefferson County.

According to online court documents, James Michael Dubrock, 32, of Clarion, entered his plea on Tuesday in the Jefferson County Court of Common Pleas to six counts of Arson-Danger of Death or Bodily Injury, a First-Degree Felony.

A no contest plea means the defendant accepts conviction as though a guilty plea had been entered but does not admit guilt.

DuBrock will be sentenced Wednesday, Oct. 19 in front of Senior Judge John Foradora.

In a previously-published story on exploreJeffersonpa.com, a detailed investigation led to the arrest and prosecution of DuBrock.

Details of the February 2016 Arson

PSP Punxsutawney Called to Fire Scene

According to a criminal complaint, on Saturday, February 20, around 1:01 a.m., Summerville Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to 66 Main Street, in Summerville Borough, Jefferson County, for a report of a working porch fire. The fire department extinguished the fire. (The area of the front door, front porch deck, and a basement entryway directly underneath the front door and floor decking had been engulfed in flames.)

The complaint states that the fire department requested Trooper Powell, of Punxsutawney-based State Police, to respond to and investigate the origin and cause of the fire. Upon Officer Powell’s arrival at the scene, he conducted a scene examination and determined the origin of the fire to be the lower right corner of the front door area. The rear of the home was inspected, and a strong odor of what was believed to be gasoline was noticed near the rear porch of the home. An arson detection dog was brought to the scene, and there were positive indicators at both the front and rear porch areas of ignitable liquids. The fire was ruled as arson with damages estimated at $10,000.00.

Fire Department Dispatched to Crash Scene Near Fire

The complaint indicates that Officer Powell was also notified that the fire department had been dispatched to a motor vehicle accident at 2:15 a.m. at 87 Water Street, in Summerville Borough, a short distance from the fire scene. A vehicle was found to have crashed in a roadway drainage ditch. The occupant of the vehicle, James Michael Dubrock, was transported to Penn Highland Brookville and later flown by emergency helicopter to UPMC Altoona for treatment.

Fire Department Personnel Discover Discarded Container of Gasoline

It was learned that the resting point of the vehicle was not the original crash scene. In fact, this vehicle had crashed approximately 7/10 mile from that point at a location upon Corsica-Summerville Road (State Route 949). Firefighters located this initial crash scene and located the wheel of this vehicle. They also noted that a set of footprints led from the side of the roadway and up a steep embankment. Fire department personnel followed the footprints where they located a plastic one gallon gasoline container with a yellow spout that had been discarded in the woods, according to the complaint.

Homeowners’ Video Surveillance Shows Male Allegedly Igniting Fire, Fleeing Scene

The homeowners of 66 Main Street indicated that they had a video surveillance system. The video footage revealed that shortly after 1:00 a.m. on February 20, a male appears on the video at the side of the home near the front right corner of the home and the home’s front porch. The male then disappears around the rear of the home (out of view of the cameras). At 1:05 a.m. the male then reappears, walks back to the front porch area, and approximately 10 seconds later, a bright flash of light was seen. The male flees through the side yard carrying what appears to be a small gasoline container with a lighter colored spout in his right hand. Video footage shows the male running down Main Street and then entering a passenger vehicle. The video shows the vehicle traveling up Creek Street towards State Route 28, the complaint states.

The male in the video was wearing a hooded type jacket with the hood pulled up and what appears to be long pants/jeans and tennis shoes. The video also shows two adults and four minor children inside the home at the time of the fire. Three of the minor male children were just inside the front door where the fire was ignited. Additionally, no less than 15 firefighters responded to the fire scene to extinguish the blaze, the complaint continues.

Dubrock’s Clothing Consistent with Male in Video, Odor of Fuel Detected on Clothing

During the investigation, Officer Eckenrode, of the UPMC Altoona Police Department, secured Dubrock’s clothing that he was wearing at the time he arrived at their facility. Digital photos of Dubrock’s clothing were consistent with the clothing worn by the actor viewed in the surveillance video. Officer Eckenrode could detect a faint odor of a fuel type substance emitting from the clothing, the complaint indicates.

Child Custody Hearing May Have Sparked Arson

During an interview with the homeowner, he indicated that on Friday, February 19, he had attended a child custody hearing/meeting with his ex-wife, who is James Dubrock’s current wife, regarding their 10-year-old minor female child, the complaint states.

It was learned that James Dubrock was escorted from the meeting room at the request of a representative of the Clarion County Sheriff’s department. DuBrock was upset about it, and both he and his wife left without attending the meeting, the complaint continues.

The homeowner also advised that Dubrock had “threatened him with physical harm,” according to the complaint.

Dubrock’s B.A.C. Obtained

Medical records indicate that Dubrock’s B.A.C. (Blood Alcohol Content) at the time of the crash was .114%.


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