MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Hempstead man was indicted for allegedly setting a house on fire in 2016 – causing permanent injuries to a 12-year-old girl who escaped the flames by jumping from a second-floor window.
Christful Fouse, 36, was arraigned yesterday before Judge Meryl Berkowitz and charged with Arson in the First Degree (an A-I felony), Arson in the Second Degree (a B violent felony), Arson in the Third Degree (a C felony), Assault in the First Degree (a B violent felony), Assault in the Second Degree (a C violent felony) and Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree (a D felony).
Bail was set at $1 million bond, or $500,000 cash, and the defendant is due back in court on December 19. If convicted of the top count, he faces a maximum of 25 years to life in prison.
“A 12-year-old girl nearly died when she jumped from a second-floor window to escape a house fire that this defendant allegedly set to settle a score,” DA Singas said. “I’m grateful to the firefighters and paramedics who treated this young victim and committed to holding the alleged arsonist accountable for this horrifically reckless crime.”
DA Singas said that on June 30, 2016, at approximately 9:20 a.m., the defendant allegedly entered a house on Long Beach Road in Hempstead and got into a physical altercation with three acquaintances inside and then left the house.
The indictment charges that the defendant returned to the house approximately 10 to 15 minutes later with a water bottle filled with gasoline, poured the gasoline on a first-floor couch, and set it on fire.
The fire quickly engulfed the two-story home and eight fire departments responded to the scene to extinguish the flames.
At the time of the altercation and fire, a 12-year-old girl was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom. While the fire spread, one of the men inside the house tried to wake her up by knocking on the door, but the door was locked, and she did not respond.
When the child, now 16, realized the house was on fire after hearing fire alarms, she was forced to climb out of a second-story window and jump to the ground. She was transported to Nassau University Medical Center by North Shore Ambulatory Hospital Ambulance Service. The impact of the fall caused a fractured spine and fractures to her right foot that caused a permanent limp. Screws and other medically implanted hardware will remain in her foot for the rest of her life.
No one else was injured during the fire.
Following the fire, the defendant fled the scene and was on the run until his arrest in Hempstead on March 16, 2019, by members of the Nassau County Police Department.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Gregory Murphy of DA Singas’ Special Operations, Narcotics and Gangs Bureau is prosecuting this case. Andrew Monteleone, Esq. represents the defendant.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.