Police didn’t violate the civil rights of an arsonist who told investigators he set fires at a group home for the intellectually disabled so he could get praise for reporting them, a state appeals court panel has concluded.
The Superior Court decision upholds Steven Michael Rode’s multiple arson and reckless endangerment convictions that spurred his 4- to 8-year prison sentence.
Rode worked at the Clearfield County home where he set the blazes, Judge Mary Murray noted in the state court’s opinion denying Rode’s appeal.
Those fires were lit in quick succession.
Steven Michael Rode
The first was called in on Jan. 15, 2018 when it was detected in the home’s laundry room. Firefighters saw flames near the power cord for a clothes dryer. Rode and another home employee were at the scene, Murray noted.
Six days later another fire call came in. That time, firefighters found a pile of clothes burning beside a dryer. The flames were climbing the wall when crews arrived, Murray wrote.
The judge cited testimony of one of Rode’s co-workers. Police said that employee told them he discovered the Jan. 21 fire, used an extinguisher to douse it, then evacuated the residents. The worker said the blaze re-ignited while Rode was still inside the building. He also said it appeared that the pile of clothes had been moved.
Another small fire had been discovered on a heater in the laundry room at the home just hours before the Jan. 15 fire, that worker told police.
A state police fire marshal determined the Jan. 21 fire had been set deliberately. Rode was the one who reported both blazes to which fire crews were summoned.
Police said that when he was interviewed a day after the Jan. 21 fire Rode told them how he was praised by his employer for detecting and responding to the blazes.
Then, when confronted with the arson evidence, he confessed, police said.
They said Rode told them he set the heater fire by lighting dryer lint on top of the register. He admitted to lighting an insect glue trap behind the dryer on Jan. 15, investigators said. They said Rode confessed that on Jan. 21 he twice set… Infosurhoy Latest News.