Arrest made in connection with fire on Fernwood Avenue

Updated: 07/10/2014 5:16 PM
Created: 07/10/2014 10:20 AM WHEC.com
By: Rachel Spotts

A grandson is charged with arson. He is accused of setting fire to a home where his grandmother's body was found inside.

In court, News10NBC learned that 52-year-old Winnie Butler was already dead when the fire started Tuesday night. Now her grandson, 22-year-old Donkish Lesane, is charged with intentionally setting that fire. He is charged with second-degree arson.  They have not charged Lesane with Butler's death.  

Lesane’s parents were in court for his arraignment on the arson charge.

Lakisha Butler, Donkish's mom, said, “I know it was an accident, but I'm stressed out. I'm trying to hold it together because I have an eight year old.”

Lakisha Butler fights back tears outside of court. Her mom is dead and her oldest, Donkish Lesane, is charged with second-degree arson.

Brian Green, Senior Assistant District Attorney, said, “Which alleges that he intentionally set a fire in the house while there were other people present in the house and he knew that.”

Winnie Butler was babysitting her four other grandchildren when the fire started. Police say Lesane got the kids, all under six-years-old, out of the house. Firefighters later found Butler’s body inside a bedroom where they say the fire started. Prosecutors say it wasn’t the fire that killed her. They say she died before it even started. Lesane was arrested less than 48 hours later.

Green said, “When he was taken into custody, there was what appeared to be a blood stain on his clothing. The stain is now being sent to the lab and it will become part of this case.”

The family of Lesane is overcome with grief. His parents insist it was all an accident.

Donnell Lesane said, “They charge him, but I don't know that he set the fire. Who said he set the fire? Nobody knows what happened. I don't know. What caused her death? I don't know.”

Butler said, “What my son did, I know it was an accident. I know it was an accident. He and my mom, they used to argue a lot and I wish he would have just walked away or called us or something. I don't want anybody to think he's a bad person, because he's not. He's a good person.”

Lesane is being held in the Monroe County Jail without bail. We’re told he could be facing additional charges as the investigation continues. At this time, prosecutors have not charged Lesane with killing his grandmother, only starting the fire. The Medical Examiner's Office should release a cause of death on Friday.

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