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Published: Wednesday, 12/6/2000

Jan. 16 trial set for suspect in '86 fatal fire

A Jan. 16 trial date was set yesterday for a man who police said killed a 7-year-old girl in 1986 by throwing a burning object through an apartment window.

Percy L. Hardiman, 44, is scheduled to stand trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for the aggravated murder of April Gott.

Judge James Bates set a $75,000 bond for Hardiman, who won't be able to post it because he is serving a nine-year prison sentence on a 1996 rape conviction.

April, daughter of Teresa Gott, was in her aunt's apartment at 617 McClinton Nunn Homes when the fire started on Aug. 9, 1986.

A witness saw Hardiman throw a burning object through the window of the apartment, prosecutors said.

Hardiman originally was charged with the crime until prosecutors dismissed the case for lack of evidence on Oct. 27, 1986.

The case was dropped when a 13-year-old girl said she was lying when she told police and a grand jury Hardiman had threatened to start a fire in the apartment at Nebraska Avenue and Collingwood Boulevard.

After the investigation was reopened in July, the witness told police her original story was the truth.

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