THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo
In a courtroom packed full of Toledo firefighters, the Oregon man accused of setting a fire that killed two firefighters made his first appearance in Lucas County Common Pleas Court today.
Ray Abou-Arab, 61, of 1311 Sierra Dr., the owner of the Magnolia Street apartment building where the fatal fire was set, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder each with death penalty specifications, two counts of murder, eight counts of aggravated arson, and one count of tampering with evidence stemming from the Jan. 26 fire that killed Toledo Fire Pvts. Stephen Machcinski and James Dickman and injured three other fireighters.
Judge Frederick McDonald set bond at $5.850 million today for Mr. Abou-Arab, who has been held in the Lucas County jail since his arrest Jan. 31.
Defense attorney Pete Rost asked Judge McDonald to continue Mr. Abou-Arab’s arraignment for two weeks while his family determines if they can hire private counsel. The judge re-set the arraignment for Feb. 25.
Judge McDonald also granted a motion filed by defense attorney James MacHarg to preserve evidence at the crime scene, ordering that the city of Toledo “take no action to destroy the fire scene or change the fire scene without prior order of this court.”
“Obviously, if it’s a safety hazard and it has to be destroyed because of the safety of the neighbors, it can’t be preserved, this is another issue," the judge said. "I will certainly be open to any motion to modify this order."
Mr. MacHarg told the court a construction engineer had inspected the building and found it “secure as of the time being.”
The charges allege Mr. Abou-Arab entered a garage at the Magnolia Street property, spent more than a minute inside, then exited and went inside the Huron Market, which is connected to the apartments. Immediately after he left the garage, the resident of the rear apartment next to the garage allegedly spotted a burning wall and called 911. After the deadly fire, investigators said they found “an ignitable liquid”inside the garage.