Jury acquits Cuero man of arson charge

Nov. 7, 2013 at 5:07 a.m.

A Victoria County jury has acquitted a Cuero man on three charges, including arson.

The jury returned its not guilty verdict for Jeremy Louis Powell, 28, just before noon Thursday.

He was charged with arson and with aggravated assault and endangering a child because prosecutors say he sprayed a woman and her home with lighter fluid when there was a 5-month-old baby inside March 14.

During closing statements, Powell's attorney, Patti Hutson, said the police investigation was not complete.

The carpet near the baby was not tested for lighter fluid, and Kacey Gibson's clothing did not have a trace of the fluid on it, and no lighter was found.

Powell's attorney said, the neighbor who says she saw Powell go to a storage room in the backyard of the home and set in on fire would have to had seen through dense trees and a building.

Further, the storage room contained Powell's clothing.

"Why would Jeremy Powell set his own clothing on fire? Does that make sense to anyone?" Hutson asked.

The alleged victim, Gibson, also does not sound scared, but mad on the 911 tape, she said.

"If you were afraid for the safety of yourself and your child, why would you stay in a place covered in lighter fluid," Hutson asked.

Assistant District Attorney Eddie Wilkinson told jurors not to discount the evidence they did have.

It is a he said, she said case. She, Gibson, is more reliable, even if she's not a good public speaker, Wilkinson said.

"Ask yourself, did she boldface lie to you? Did she boldface lie to police at the scene?" he said, reminding jurors of how Powell gave police a wrong name when first asked to identify himself.

If jurors believed Powell's story - that he left before the lighter fluid was sprayed in the house - Gibson would have had to set the fire in the storage room, spray the house and herself with lighter fluid, talk to her neighbor and make the 911 phone call in a span of about five minutes while Powell's friends watched, Wilkinson said.

"You would have to believe she put on an Oscar-winning performance," he said.



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