Two More Charged in 2013 Schenectady Arson
ALBANY, N.Y. — In an unexpected twist Friday, federal prosecutors charged two more men for lying about a fatal 2013 arson in Schenectady, that killed nearly an entire family and scarred Sa'Fyre Terry for life.
Bryan Fish and Richard Ramsey were both arraigned on perjury charges before United States Magistrate Christian Hummel. Both are accused of spinning false stories about the morning of May 2nd, 2013, and their role in the fire. Neither was involved, but both have indicated they made up parts of their grand jury testimony about the fire in order to avoid further trouble.
Fish now faces up to 15 years in prison; Ramsey could serve as many as 20 years.
According to a partially unsealed federal indictment, Fish was with Jennica Duell in Saratoga Springs the night of the fire. Duell, the mother of Sa'Fyre and the three deceased children, was spending time with Fish and another man, Robert Butler.
Federal investigators have since uncovered that the trio stayed in Saratoga that night, but at first police believed Duell, Fish and Butler drove to Schenectady and set the fire. Fish aided the false narrative by telling police, and later testifying before a grand jury, that he had watched Butler ignite the flames.
"He opened the doors and started spraying the gasoline over the hallway," Fish said in the testimony. "And then I saw him bend over, and all I saw was a big flame."
Due likely in part to Fish's allegedly false story, Robert Butler spent nearly a year in jail on arson charges, before he was released in February 2014 for lack of evidence.
On Friday, Fish's attorney Frederick Rench said that Fish had broken down after more than 12 hours of interrogation.
"Apparently the words came out of his mouth, but from whom did he get the information?" Rench said. "He's a 22-year-old kid who never completed high school, and he had a learning disability. I think he was taken advantage of by the police."
Rench's comments mirror those of Jennica Duell's attorney Cheryl Coleman. Duell has pleaded guilty to perjury charges in a similar case; she is now serving more than 11 years in prison.
Richard Ramsey, the second man indicted for perjury Friday, allegedly told police that Robert Butler had borrowed his car to drive from Saratoga and set the fire in Schenectady. Ramsey later told the U.S. attorneys that he spun the tale to avoid greater trouble for himself in the investigation.
Both men were sent to Rensselaer County Jail on Friday, being held in federal custody without bail pending detention hearings next week.
Duell remains in prison, along with Edward Leon, also convicted of perjury in the case. After initially telling investigators he was nowhere near Schenectady when the fire broke out, Leon later admitted he was standing outside the house when the flames ignited, though he has not admitted to setting the blaze.
Leon is serving a 10-year prison sentence, and remains a target of the federal arson case.
No one has ever been indicted for setting the fire.