Alleged Arsonist Was Told to Stop Masturbating: Cops - Legally Weird
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Alleged Arsonist Was Told to Stop Masturbating: Cops

In another "of course this happened in Florida!" story, a Tampa man who'd been told by building management to quell his masturbating ways was arrested on suspicion of felony arson after his apartment complex went up in flames.

Kenneth Haskins, 58, is accused of setting the fire as an act of revenge Sunday night, after building managers asked him to "stop masturbating in front of his open windows and front door," according to UPI.

So why do investigators think Haskins had a hand in starting the fire?

Felony Arson in Florida

Police believe Haskins set the fire because he felt he was being unjustly treated over the "stop masturbating" request and wanted to get back at the apartment's management. After an initial investigation, police arrested him for felony arson, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

In Florida, a defendant can be found guilty of first degree arson if he willfully causes a dwelling or structure to be damaged by fire. In most states, it's required that there be at least charring of the structure in order to be convicted of arson.

It's pretty clear that more than charring has occurred in this case. Four residents were displaced from their homes after the fire broke out, so there's likely significant structural damage caused by the blaze. An investigation also determined that the fire originated in Haskins' apartment, the Times reports.

Possible Hearsay Issues?

One thing that may have helped police nab Haskins was his neighbor's claim that Haskins admitted to setting the fire, according to the Times. While his neighbor's claim might have contributed to the probable cause needed for Haskins' arrest, Haskin's criminal defense attorney could potentially try to get it thrown out of court.

That's because the neighbor's statement can potentially be considered hearsay -- a statement made outside of court that's now being used to prove the truth of the matter at issue. Hearsay statements aren't allowed as evidence unless they fall under certain hearsay exceptions.

For example, if Haskins excitedly told his neighbor that he'd set the fire immediately after he lit the place up, then the statement might be admissible in court as an "excited utterance" under Florida's rules of evidence. That'll be something for prosecutors and defense lawyers to argue about as the case moves forward.

Besides his recent arson arrest, Haskins has no major criminal record in Florida, according to the Times. No one was injured in the fire.

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