After two days of listening to testimony, an Ottawa County Common Pleas Court jury deliberated for about an hour before deciding Michael Boyer was not guilty of arson and insurance fraud.
Boyer, formerly of 24774 W. State Route 51, was indicted in August, 2011 on two counts of aggravated arson and one count of insurance fraud – all felony charges.
He’d been accused of deliberately setting a fire April 5 in his home. Authorities said he wife was sleeping inside at the time.
“He was somewhat physically overcome when they started reading the verdict,” said his attorney Jerome Phillips. “After the first verdict was read he was crying and it looked to me like he was hyperventilating and had a hard time catching his breath. So I had him sit down while the other verdicts were read.
Boyer’s wife, Roxane, filed for divorce a few months after the blaze, according to common pleas court records.
“I think the sticking point for the jury was there wasn’t any real evidence that he set the fire,” Phillips said. “Two things we argued were that when the fire was discovered he went out and got a ladder and rescued her. The second thing was, which I thought was compelling, was there were three pets in the house and the only one that died was his dog. He actually went back into the burning house and got his wife’s dog out.”
Phillips said the home was nearly paid off and there were no valuables removed prior to the fire.
The couple’s two teenage children who were living in the home had already left for school.
Officers from the Allen-Clay Joint Fire District, the state fire marshal’s office, and investigators hired by home insurer testified during the trial.
In September of last year, Boyer had to get his bond modified to be allowed to attend his eldest daughter’s wedding and reception.
“It’s been a long arduous process for Michael and I think he wants to get the divorce resolved and get his life back on track.” Phillips said.
The case was heard Oct. 24 and 25 by visiting Judge Denise Dartt, a retired Lucas County Common Pleas Court judge.