Man guilty of arson, murder in Club Ivy fire

DAYTON — A Trotwood man accused of setting a fire at Club Ivy last year that killed the club’s chef was convicted Thursday, July 30, of aggravated arson and murder.

A Montgomery County Common Pleas jury convicted James D. Williams III in the death of Robert C. Fabia, 50, the chef who was inside the club, 3509 N. Main St., when Williams set it on fire Aug. 26.

The jury, which got the case late Wednesday, deliberated Thursday morning and announced its verdict after 1 p.m.

The verdict was guilty:

• To one count of aggravated arson, under a part of the statute that covers an occupied structure;

• One count of aggravated arson, under a part of the statute that covers agreement for hire.

• Two counts of felony murder, which were contingent on convictions for the aggravated arson counts.

• One count of arson.

• One count of involuntary manslaughter, which was contingent on a conviction for the arson count.

• And two counts of possessing criminal tools, for the ladder and gas can used in the crime.

The jury acquitted Williams, 28, of a third count of aggravated arson and a murder count.

Under Ohio law, a person can be convicted of murder, even if the defendant did not purposely kill another, should the defendant be convicted of certain high-level felonies, such as aggravated arson.

Judge Mary Wiseman set sentencing for Aug. 13.

The murder and involuntary manslaughter counts will likely merge for sentencing, since they cover the same death.

Involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Murder is an unclassified offense and is punishable by 15 years to life.

Defense attorney Douglas Hess told the jury Wednesday that Williams was only guilty of arson, that he had no idea someone was in the building, which was set on fire between 1 and 2 a.m.

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