Grand jury returns indictment

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 4, 1999

in TSU arson case

By MICHELLE J. WILSON

Staff Writer

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Published Aug. 4, 1999

The man charged with first-degree arson in a May 20 fire at Troy State University’s largest dorm was indicted by a Pike County Grand Jury Monday.

Kevin Jerrell Dansby, 19, a TSU sophomore from Birmingham, was indicted for the class A felony. The crime is punishable by a minimum of 10 years to life in prison, said Bruce L. Devane, chief investigator with the 12th Judicial Circuit District Attorney.

The grand jury met at a scheduled session Monday and returned 49 felony indictments and one misdemeanor indictment, Devane said. The grand jury received evidence in 50 cases.

The grand jury is a body of 18 people who meet in secret to hear evidence the state has in alleged criminal cases, he said. If the grand jury decides the state has enough evidence to go to trial, an indictment is issued. The indictment is a written statement saying the suspect is formally charged with a crime.

Dansby is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 1, Devane said. An arraignment is a hearing at which the suspect is read the indictment’s formal charges and makes pleas of not guilty, not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, or guilty. A trial follows either of the not guilty pleas, and the guilty plea is followed by sentencing.

Dansby, a TSU football player, confessed to setting fire in his own room at Alumni Hall May 20, said Steve Knockemus, TSU public affairs coordinator.

The fire Dansby is accused of setting was the second fire at Alumni Hall, the university’s largest dorm, that week. The alleged arson followed a larger fire May 18 that gutted three fourth-floor study rooms at Alumni Hall.

No one was injured in either of the fires.

Dansby is a suspect in the May 18 fire and took a polygraph test while being questioned about it, Knockemus said.