CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A jury has found a homeless man guilty of setting fire to a West Side house where his wife and daughter lived.
Clinton Simpson, 59, went on trial this week on a charge of first-degree arson. The jury deliberated about an hour and a half before reaching the verdict Tuesday.
Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom presided over the trial.
Prosecutors said Simpson used a can of gasoline and a lighter to ignite the back porch of the house at 600 Randolph St. on the city's West Side. The fire occurred June 22.
The house was in flames when firefighters arrived. Simpson's wife, 51-year-old Jodie Gilbert, had recently obtained a domestic violence petition against him. She and her 17-year-old daughter were not injured.
Simpson was arrested several hours later at a nearby church. He denied he was the one who set the fire.
Assistant Prosecutor James Bailey told the jurors, "Clinton Simpson is the one who fled and did not stick around to give a statement to police. That's what guilty people do."
Witnesses testified that Simpson had had an argument earlier that evening with a friend and threatened to burn the home. They said he was inebriated.
Bailey said, "There are not many things in this world more dangerous than a jealous husband who has been drinking all day."
Defense attorney Tara Whittaker asked jurors to find Simpson not guilty because there was no direct evidence linking him to the crime.
Whittaker said, "No gas was on him or his clothes. No one saw who or what lit this fire. The police stopped their investigation short. Maybe the government was just done with it, or didn't care about a homeless man."
Simpson is incarcerated at South Central Regional Jail and will be sentenced later this month.
Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at cher...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4832.