Butler County man pleads guilty to starting New Year’s Day Jeep fire with wife, her children in home

Maston Leamon Murphy III
Maston Leamon Murphy III

Credit: Butler County Jail

Credit: Butler County Jail

A Middletown man has admitted guilt for starting a fire that spread to a house with his wife and her two children inside on New Year’s Day.

Maston Leamon Murphy III, 36, was indicted in February by a Butler County grand jury on four counts of aggravated arson and one count of arson, all felonies.

Maston Murphy, 36, was charged with four counts of aggravated arson after he allegedly started a house fire Friday morning on Baltimore Street while his wife and her two children were inside. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Maston Murphy, 36, was charged with four counts of aggravated arson after he allegedly started a house fire Friday morning on Baltimore Street while his wife and her two children were inside. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Murphy was accused of setting his wife’s Jeep on fire. Flames spread to the house while she and her children were sleeping inside.

On Thursday, Murphy pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated arson, and the remainder of the charges were dismissed, according to court documents. He faces the maximum of 11 years in prison. Judge Keith Spaeth set sentencing for April 29.

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Murphy, who confessed to starting the fire that included pouring gasoline on the Jeep, was arrested by Middletown police on Jan. 1, a few hours after the fire, according to police records and fire officials.

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His wife, Brittani Murphy, 30, said in January she was sleeping at 6:30 a.m. New Year’s Day in her Baltimore Street home when she heard a loud knock at her front door. A neighbor told her flames were visible. She went to the bathroom and saw flames shooting through the window, she said.

She quickly got her two daughters, ages 8 and 6, out of the house. The three suffered minor smoke inhalation, according to the fire report.

Lt. Frank Baughman from the Middletown Division of Fire said two residences in the 1900 block of Baltimore Street were damaged. The home sustained $20,000 in damages to the property and $10,000 to the contents. Those estimates don’t include the two Jeeps, Baughman said.

Murphy remains housed in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $430,000 cash or surety bond.

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