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Charges dismissed against Utah arson suspect

Published March 4, 2014 2:00 pm

Courts • Stacy Barnard was originally charged for starting fire that killed her ex-boyfriend.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An arson charge was dismissed Monday against a Hurricane woman who had been accused of starting a fire that police say killed her boyfriend.

Stacy Barnard, 43, was originally charged in 5th District Court with first-degree felony aggravated arson.

But on Monday, the charge was dismissed.

"Originally, a K9 unit indicated there was accelerant," defense attorney Jay Winward said Tuesday. "The state crime lab reports there was no accelerant found. There was nothing that indicated that there was accelerant used."

Winward would not comment on what Barnard's version of events was regarding the New Year's Day fire, but he said it was "safe to assume" it was an accident.

According to a probable cause statement filed in court, firefighters could not enter the trailer at 237 W. State St. because it was fully engulfed in flames when they arrived around 3:30 a.m. Barnard was outside the trailer, and told firefighters that 31-year-old David Wayne Vere Neilson was still inside.

Barnard was reportedly seen by other trailer park residents shouting and pounding on the side of the trailer after it burst into flames. Residents initially tried to pry open the trailer's door to get to the man inside, but the flames were too intense.

After extinguishing the fire, crews went into the trailer and found Neilson, deceased and severely burned.

Both Barnard and Neilson — who was a periodic boyfriend of Barnard's, according to police — were believed to be at the home when the fire broke out.

Barnard told police that she had been burning candles and the fire started there, according to the probable cause statement. Court documents allege that the police dog indicated that Barnard's hands had an accelerant on them.

Hurricane Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said Tuesday afternoon that the case remains an open and active investigation.

"We are still looking at a few leads," Buell said. "We'll continue to look until there are no other avenues to look into."

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller