Trial date set for Madison Twp. man accused of starting fatal fire

Credit: Journal News

Caption
Fatal Fire at Catalina mobile home park in Madison Township

Credit: Journal News

Johnson, charged with arson in mobile home blaze, found competent.

A Madison Twp. man accused of setting a trailer fire last fall that killed a man has been found competent and a trial has been set for next year.

James D. Johnson, 57, of Catalina Manufactured Home Community, was booked into the Middletown City Jail a few days after the Sept. 21, 2020, fire at the Germantown Road residence.

Explore1 killed in Madison Twp. fire possibly started by cigar laid on toilet paper

Steven C. Strain, 59, was found dead in the mobile home.

A month later, Johnson was indicted by a Butler County grand jury for murder and aggravated arson.

John David Johnson
Caption
John David Johnson

Credit: Butler County Jail

Credit: Butler County Jail

The trailer was engulfed in flames when deputies arrived about 8:06 p.m. The deputies attempted to get inside to the bedroom of a man trapped, but were unable because of the intensity of the fire, according to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

At the scene, Johnson told deputies he was smoking a cigar and laid it down on a roll of toilet paper, causing a fire.

ExploreTeen sentenced to probation for starting huge Hamilton warehouse fire

Johnson made a statement that he would burn down the trailer if he was forced to move out, according to Sheriff’s detectives.

After three psychological evaluations, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Dan Haughey found Johnson competent to stand trial. His trial is scheduled for Jan. 24. Johnson is scheduled to be back in court Dec. 7 for a pre-trial hearing.

He remains housed in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Madison Twp. Fire Chief Kent Hall said last year firefighters had put out a blaze at the same trailer Aug. 12. During that fire, three trailer park employees pulled Johnson from inside the rear door and removed him from the trailer. He is the original owner of the trailer, according to fire officials.

About the Author