HUDSON FALLS — The Glens Falls man charged with murder and arson for the death of his girlfriend in a fire last week has hired his own lawyer and had his latest court hearing postponed.
Derrick M. Guilder has retained Saratoga Springs attorney Theresa Suozzi to represent him in connection with the Sept. 6 fire on North Street that killed 18-year-old Ashley Coltrain.
Suozzi was hired Friday, and agreed to waive a preliminary hearing that had been scheduled for Monday afternoon. That hearing was meant to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to continue to have Guilder held in Washington County Jail, pending a grand jury review.
He is due back in court on Oct. 11. Suozzi did not return a phone call for comment Monday.
Guilder had been represented by the Washington County Public Defender’s Office at his arraignment.
Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said he anticipated that a Washington County grand jury would review the case in the coming weeks, but no date had been set as of Monday.
Guilder, 22, was arrested about 20 hours after he escaped the early morning fire that claimed Coltrain’s life. He suffered smoke inhalation, and when questioned at Glens Falls Hospital after the fire, admitted he started the fire by setting papers ablaze, then fled while Coltrain was asleep in a bedroom.
Hudson Falls Police said he intended to kill Coltrain and himself, but “panicked” and fled out a window onto a porch roof, where police and firefighters rescued him. They were unable to get into the burning house to get Coltrain, however.
Guilder, a housekeeper at Glens Falls Hospital, had been staying in the two-story North Street home with Coltrain, whose family had rented it for a year or so. Her mother had died 10 days earlier, and they lived there alone at the time of the fire.
When he was arraigned Thursday, Guilder told Kingsbury Town Justice Michael Keenan he lived on Fourth Street in Glens Falls.
Jordan said the recent spate of senseless violence in the region was concerning, particularly because a number of the cases involve young people accused of murder. Murder charges were filed against young people in Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties in separate cases in recent weeks.
“I think as a society we have to take a look at why this is happening,” he said.
In the coming months, Jordan’s office has two murder cases to prosecute as well as the case of a registered sex offender from Kingsbury who is accused of inappropriate contact with numerous local boys.