Palatine arson expert testifies fire was deliberately set
A Palatine Fire Department arson investigator testified Tuesday that a 2016 fire at a home on the 1000 block of Penny Lane in Palatine was deliberately set.
No one was injured in the fire, which homeowner Richard Moss reported to authorities about 5:30 p.m. March 6, 2016. Moss, 44, now of Warrenville, is charged with arson. He has pleaded not guilty.
Moss, who was alone at the time, told authorities the fire began in a smoker on the patio he was using to cook chicken.
But Lt. Matthew Nagy testified the smoker was "cold to the touch" when he examined it several hours later.
During cross examination, defense attorney Jack Quirk suggested the smoker and the charcoal briquettes inside might have cooled during that time.
Nagy testified the fire originated in two mattresses in a basement utility room, one of which was "completely consumed" by fire. The other mattress and both box springs were damaged, as were the subfloor and laminate flooring in the room above, Nagy said.
Finding no accelerant, Nagy determined the fire began after someone held a flame to the mattresses.
Nagy described Moss as "a little bit in shock" the night of the fire. Moss told him he left the house after he smelled something burning and saw smoke rising from the vents, according to Nagy.
Nagy testified Moss told him he was going through a divorce, had financial concerns, had been out of work for several years and had quarreled with his girlfriend earlier that day.