House owner pleads not guilty in firefighter’s death

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) — The owner of the site of a house fire that led to a firefighter’s death nearly a year ago has pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated arson and murder.

A Butler County judge Tuesday set bond at $500,000 for 66-year-old Lester Parker. Hamilton police arrested him Monday at a home near the one that went up in flames last Dec. 28. Twenty-eight-year-old Hamilton firefighter Patrick Wolterman (WOHL’-tur-man) crashed through a floor soon after entering the smoke-filled house and was killed.

A coroner ruled the case a homicide.

Parker denied responsibility. He told WLWT-TV of Cincinnati Monday that authorities need to “find the person that done it.”

The murder charge carries a potential sentence of 15 years to life upon conviction; aggravated arson carries a potential maximum of 11 years.