Trial set for man charged with fire that destroyed Utah apartment building
A man who allegedly set a fire that destroyed an apartment building under construction in Salt Lake City will stand trial in May, a federal magistrate judge decided Wednesday.
Dustin Jay Bowman, 34, pleaded not guilty to one count of arson during a brief appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner. A different magistrate judge on Feb. 24 ordered that Bowman remain in jail until his trial because of his substance abuse problems and mental health concerns.
Bowman is charged with intentionally setting the Feb. 9 fire that destroyed the $6 million apartment project, which was under construction at 550 E. 500 South. Bowman, an electrician, was employed by a contractor working on the apartment complex.
If convicted, he faces a potential penalty of up to 20 years in prison, with a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.
After several interviews with investigators, Bowman admitted that after smoking spice he entered the apartment complex and lit some cardboard on fire and tossed it against a boxed bathtub leaning against a wood wall because he "wanted to see the fire department," according to a federal complaint. Bowman was arrested Feb. 14.
Bowman became a suspect after investigators watched surveillance camera footage that captured the image of a man walking through an alley immediately west of the apartment building shortly before the fire began.